Danilo Gallinari, a non-factor for much of the first three games of the Knicks-Hawks series, made his presence known in a physical Game 4.
The Hawks forward recorded 21 points in 24 minutes in an aggressive performance that helped Atlanta secure a 113-96 win and a 3-1 series lead over the Knicks on Sunday afternoon.
It’s hard to miss Gallinari, the 13-year vet who started his career as a lottery pick with the Knicks, because of his Mohawk haircut and the Knicks certainly noticed him.
Gallinari shot 6-for-9 off the bench and clearly got under the Knicks’ collective skin.
With less than four minutes to play in the fourth quarter, the Knicks were down 111-97 when things turned chippy between Gallinari and Julius Randle — who earlier had sent John Collins to the locker room for stitches after an elbow to the lip left the Hawks forward with a bloody mouth.
Randle gave Gallinari a shove with his forearm, which resulted in a Flagrant 1 foul from the officials.
After the exchange, Randle was met with cheers and hugs from the Knicks bench, including a high five from Reggie Bullock, who had gotten into it with Gallinari on a previous play.
Bullock, just minutes earlier, charged the Hawks huddle during a timeout after he took a forearm to the back from Gallinari under the basket, following a shot. Bullock picked up a technical foul.
“I honestly didn’t know that Bullock was mad at me or was running towards me, I didn’t see that,” he said. “I was just going back to the bench to get my water, to be honest. I don’t know, I wasn’t really paying attention to what was happening. … That’s the normal reaction when you lose a game like this. It is something that is to be expected, and it’s OK. We’re all competitors, and we hate to lose.”
The series shifts back to New York for Game 5 Wednesday, which Gallinari expects to be more tense than Sunday’s faceoff.
“I think it’s going to be even more physical and especially at the Garden, it’s going to be even more physical, So it’s going to be a great test for us.”