Younger fans probably know the famous Dikembe Mutombo finger-wag from his hysterical car-insurance commercial more than his days as a lethal NBA shot blocker.
Hawks center Clint Capela paid tribute with a demonstrative finger-wag after finishing off Julius Randle and the Knicks with an emphatic blocked shot in the closing minutes of Friday’s 105-94 victory to give the Hawks a 2-1 in their first-round playoff series.
“It felt good. I just showed presence. That’s what I do. I just wanted to make a statement there, with the finger (wag), and did a little C-C [motion],” Capela said, referring to his initials. “Whatever I have to do to just to hype up the fans, especially to have that connection with the fans, it was awesome, man.”
The shift of the series to Atlanta’s packed State Farm Arena served as motivation for the Hawks after earning a two-game split amid the profane chants – and spitting incident — directed at Trae Young to open the series at the Garden.
“It was awesome. It’s been more than a year, year and a half, and I haven’t experienced that, so it really felt good, especially a playoff atmosphere like that” said Capela, who was injured when he was acquired from Houston in Feb. 2020, just ahead of the pandemic shutdown. “It was really our sixth man [Friday night]. It was great to be on the court with all that energy.”
The Atlanta fans serenaded Knicks All-Star forward Julius Randle with “overrated” chants.
Randle shot 2-for-15 Friday night to extend his series-long slump – aside from the second half in the Knicks’ Game 2 comeback victory – to 13-for-54 (24.1 percent).
When asked whether Randle is showing frustration, Hawks power forward John Collins responded, “I really don’t care, but I hope so.”
“Whether we’re frustrating him or not, we’ve started [De’Andre Hunter] on him and we’ve just tried to get pressure on him and not allow him to walk to his spot or get to his spot out on the floor, and try to pressure on him.
“We had to switch ‘Dre onto [Derrick) Rose, and then [Collins] did a solid job of just making him work, staying in front of him, denying his catch, forcing his catch out [away from the basket0…Make him score over the top, and not allow him to attack and get to the free-throw line.”
Meanwhile, Young picked apart the Knicks’ defense, penetrating the paint and either hitting his floater or kicking out to his teammates. Young finished with 21 points, 14 assists and just two turnovers, while the Hawks shot nearly 60 percent (16-for-27) from 3-point range.
Capela also hooked up with Young for two alley-oop dunks, finishing with 13 points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots.
“Trae was awesome. He was just orchestrating everything. He really kept his composure and did everything right. And that’s what we need from him,” Capela said. “Now, this is what’s going to be expected from him. We all really had a lot of fun [Friday night], and he’s a big part of it.”