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Derrick Rose aims to make Game 2 harder for Trae Young

The Knicks' Derrick Rose, left, fouls the Hawks'

The Knicks' Derrick Rose, left, fouls the Hawks' Trae Young in the second half of Game 1 of an NBA first-round playoff series, Sunday, May 23, 2021, in New York. Credit: AP/Seth Wenig

It was a long time ago that Derrick Rose was where Trae Young was, a young star in the NBA just setting his course and finding not everyone was cheering for him. For Rose, it was a playoff series in Boston where he heard and saw things that opened his eyes.

And now, as Rose is a grizzled veteran tasked with trying to help the Knicks slow down Young and even the opening-round playoff series, he saw Young draw the ire of the Madison Square Garden on Sunday in Game 1. And he saw Young rise to the occasion, scoring 32 points, handing out 10 assists and delivering a last-second, game-winning shot and quiet the crowd.

But as he prepared for Game 2 on Wednesday night, Rose had little sympathy for what Young would likely face again.

"That’s basketball. The league got so soft," Rose said after the Knicks' morning shootaround. "That’s basketball. He came in, he played a great game. And the crowd is supposed to do that. It’s supposed to be that way. And it’s supposed to amp up and bring the atmosphere to where it is right now.

"That’s what I’m used to. I’ve been in series where drinks were thrown at a parent, people’s moms. You on the court and you see a beer splashed on your mom, that’s the environment I’m used to. Now it’s a little different. That’s all part of the game. When you got both sides fighting and you’ve worked your butt off all year. Summertime when nobody is watching, you’re at the gym, working on your game and seeing the results of it. Not only in the regular season but in the playoffs and you want to talk . . . talk . . . But the next game it’s going to be tougher. The environment is going to create a great atmosphere for great basketball."

The reception certainly won’t be any quieter or kinder for Young, not after he walked off the floor Sunday with his finger pressed to his lips and saying to cameras, "It got real quiet in there," after his game-winning shot. He’s had fans screaming, celebrities taking him on on social media and even New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joking in a news conference, telling Young to stop hunting fouls.

In the three games the Knicks swept from Atlanta in the regular season, Young put up numbers, but did it shooting a low percentage as the Knicks made him work for what he got. Whether it was the adrenaline of the crowd or simply a failed game plan, everything seemed far too easy for Young on Sunday.

"I can say we played too relaxed," Rose said. "[In Game 2] we’re just going to play our normal way of playing — aggressive and playing smart. He’s a smart player. He knows how to use angles. We just got to make sure we stay into the ball and make things harder for him. Last game we didn’t do that. If you look on the film, we weren’t into the ball. We kind of let him go and dictate the game. We got to make sure — he didn’t turn his back one time. We got to make sure that we play a little bit harder.

"He was making great decisions with the ball. Guarding any player like that, it’s going to be hard guarding smart players, his IQ for the game is through the roof. His teammates all trust him to make plays and give them the ball at certain times. Last game, as a point guard, he didn’t turn his back one time. They put numerous people on me and I had turned my back numerous times, which shows the pressure between both teams. He has to feel our presence. We got to make it harder."

"I’m really not even worried about what Trae got going on or what people are saying about him, just what Coach [Tom Thibodeau] wants us to do," Reggie Bullock added. "I’m only worried about our team. I know how tough the 15 guys are that we have been all year. It's not the fans, it’s not the crowd. We have to compete every possession and that’s all we can worry about."

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