Three Things to Know: What boos? New York brings out Hawks’ swagger they’ve missed

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Three Things is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out NBCSports.com every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks that make the NBA great.

1) What boos? New York brings out Trae Young‘s, Hawks’ swagger they’ve missed

The Atlanta Hawks have played this season like they expected to roll the balls out and just pick up where they left off after last season — playing with swagger, flair, draining deep 3s and beating everyone in their path.

That’s not how sports work — every season is different. Every team is different. Even with the same core, a team has to put in the work to get back to where they were a year before. There is no skipping steps.

There is something about Madison Square Garden — and the boos from New York fans — that sparks Trae Young and the Hawks to play their best.

For a Hawks team looking to find its mojo again before the playoffs, this was the kind of game they needed. The type of win they needed. An inspired Trae Young scored 45, and Bogdan Bogdanović added 32 off the bench as the Hawks beat the Knicks, 117-111.

New York fans took out a season’s worth of frustration on Young, but it didn’t phase him.

The Knicks were without Julius Randle in this one due to a sore right quadriceps tendon, and Obi Toppin was solid but not spectacular in his place. The Knicks are trying to find their mojo — and lineups that work, too — which leads to this interesting note from Dan Devine of the Ringer: New York is +4.4 per 100 in minutes with RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley on the court but no Randle this season. The Knicks made their runs with that combo on Tuesday. Just something to watch.

Can the Hawks build on this win? Yes, but how much they can build this season may not matter much. The 36-36 Hawks are destined for the bottom half of the play-in — they would have to win a couple of tough games (Charlotte, then Brooklyn/Toronto) just to get out of the play-in, and the reward is the Miami Heat. Another magical deep playoff run may be too much to ask.

But wins like this can remind the Hawks who they are and who they need to be heading into the offseason and next year, when they can climb back to the top of the East.

2) Warriors drop game to Magic; Draymond Green calls team “soft”

When Stephen Curry is on the court this season, the Warriors have the equivalent of a top-four offense in the NBA (and that is with Klay Thompson and Draymond Green each missing significant time). When Curry is out, that falls to a bottom-five offense in the league. Curry’s shot creation, Curry’s gravity to pull defenders to him and warp defenses means that much to Golden State.

Curry is out for another week or two (hopefully that’s it) with a foot injury, and on Tuesday the Warriors scored less than a point per possession on their way to a loss to the lowly Orlando Magic, 94-90.

That’s the kind of game an elite team, a championship team, wins without their star (the Suns are 10-4 in this streak without Chris Paul, the Grizzlies are 14-2 without Ja Morant this season). After the game, Draymond Green ripped his team.

“I think we’re playing soft, we’re playing stupid. We’re just not playing good basketball, we’re getting punked. It’s hard to win a game getting punked. That’s kind of where we are right now… No disrespect to the Orlando Magic, but they are one of the worst teams in the league. And we can’t match up with them. And if you can’t match up with them, you’re definitely not going to do it against the great teams. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a concern, but that’s what’s happening. I don’t doubt that we can fix it, but if we’re going to win some games then it’s got to be fixed.”

The concern in Golden State is picking up enough wins the rest of the way to hold on to their No. 3 seed — Utah is two games back and Dallas three (the Warriors have 10 games left). The Warriors need wins, but things are not going to get easier. Next up for the Warriors? The Miami Heat.

3) NBA tried to hit its fine quota for the month in one day Tuesday

Like a motorcycle cop setting up a speed trap to hit his ticket quota for the month, the NBA handed out fines on Tuesday to everyone who crossed their path. Here’s a quick rundown.

• Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic, who was in street clothes for the game in Indiana, was fined $40,000 for confronting a fan and throwing his phone.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CbV56I2lUdr/

The league doesn’t want its players confronting fans, but when the fans are yelling things that go WAY over the line and security doesn’t do anything about it, then I have no issue with players sticking up for themselves. League and team security have to do better police fans in these circumstances.

• The Timberwolves Patrick Beverley got a $20,000 fine, and the Bucks George Hill was hit with $15,000 for escalating a minor little thing between Taurean Prince and Serge Ibaka into a genuine scuffle.

• Draymond Green got a $25,000 fine for what he said to a referee, which got him ejected from the Warriors’ loss to the Spurs.

• The Knicks Julius Randle must have said something much worse than Green because he got $40,000 for what he said to an official after Randle and Rudy Gobert got into it after the Knicks/Jazz game. For those counting at home, that is four fines totaling $130,000 for Randle this season.

Highlight of the Night: Zion throwing down dunks in an empty gym

Zion Williamson will not play a minute this season for the New Orleans Pelicans. He’s still recovering from foot surgery last offseason.

But Zion is doing this in an empty gym.

He still has his hops. So there’s that.

Yesterday’s scores:

Orlando 94, Golden State 90
Atlanta 117, New York 111
Milwaukee 126, Chicago 98
Denver 127, LA Clippers 115