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Knicks lose to Hawks by 16, now in danger of falling into Play-In Tournament territory

Things are starting to get dicey at Madison Square Garden, where the free-falling, undermanned Knicks are inching closer to Play-In Tournament territory with each debilitating loss.

The latest defeat: a disappointing 116-100 loss to an Atlanta Hawks team without All-Star guard Trae Young (hand surgery).

The Knicks entered the matchup with the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference but fell to fifth after Tuesday’s loss at The Garden.

The Orlando Magic have leapfrogged the standings and sit fourth; the Knicks are fifth, the Miami Heat sixth, Philadelphia is now seventh and the Indiana Pacers sit eighth.

And only two games separate the East’s No. 4 seed from eighth place in the conference.

This means while things are getting good for fans seeking spirited basketball to end the regular season, the status quo couldn’t be worse for a Knicks team in arm’s reach of the East’s No. 2 seed back in January.

The Knicks were on a steamroller after trading for OG Anunoby and rattled off 13 wins in the first 16 games after the deal.

Anunoby (right elbow surgery) got hurt. Julius Randle (dislocated right shoulder) did, too. Mitchell Robinson (left ankle surgery) was already out before the pair of forwards went down.

And Jalen Brunson was the latest addition to the injury report, missing Tuesday’s matchup against the Hawks after sustaining a bruised knee on Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Without the offensive firepower — and Anunoby’s defensive presence — the Knicks have now lost nine of their last 13 games.

For a team many considered dark horse contenders to make an Eastern Conference Finals appearance, the sudden-death Play-In Tournament never felt so real.

Veteran forward Josh Hart says he doesn’t think about the standings too much, but he also knows the Knicks are a different, more dominant team when they can get their injured players back on the court.

“At the end of the day, I feel if this team gets healthy, we can make noise,” Hart said after the loss on Tuesday. “Obviously, you don’t want to be in the Play-In. You’d like to have that three or five days of rest going int the first round.

“It’s a cliché Thibs thing, but we’re just trying to take it one day at a time. Obviously, we’re going to get guys back soon, but we have to keep pushing. At the end of the day, we are where we are, and I like this team.”

Young’s absence didn’t make the Hawks any better on defense — but the Knicks were unable to take advantage of the shoddy Atlanta defense.

In fact, the three-point-happy Knicks shot just 3-of-16 from downtown in the first quarter despite getting several open looks courtesy of a Hawks rotation perpetually several seconds.

It didn’t matter.

The Knicks shot 16-of-52 (30.8 percent) from downtown on the night, lost on the glass, 51-40, and were uncharacteristically poor taking care of the ball with 11 turnovers on the night, including a number of costly errors in the opening period.

In short, they violated the main tenets of Tom Thibodeau’s basketball philosophy: force the defense to collapse to generate open threes, win the rebound margin, don’t give the ball away.

New York trailed by as many as 22 and never led in a wire-to-wire victory for the lottery-bound Hawks.

The Knicks can’t afford to play this poorly with the players who are out of the rotation.

“We’re doing everything we can,” said fill-in starter Miles “Deuce” McBride, who played a team-high 45 minutes in the loss to the Hawks. “We’re doing as much as we can recovery wise, the guys that are playing big minutes, and working on the chemistry — guys coming in and out. It’s tough but you’ve gotta keep on moving forward.”

The Knicks signed backup guard Shake Milton after he cleared waivers via the Detroit Pistons, but he did not play against the Hawks on Tuesday.

The Knicks now get two days of rest before hosting the Orlando Magic on Friday.

The Knicks are 0-3 against the Magic this season, including an 18-point loss in a game Brunson went for 33 points.

Brunson’s status is unknown for Friday against Orlando, adding to a growing list of reasons why the Knicks are freefalling in a dicey second half of the season.