Knicks Slide Past Hawks

Jonah Ballow



How it happened:
With the playoffs just around the corner, the Knicks are looking to provide some rest for key members of the team. Over the course of the year, Tyson Chandler has been one of the most durable and effective defensive players in the league. During Sunday’s contest in Atlanta, interim head coach Mike Woodson allowed Chandler to take the day off and he placed Amar’e Stoudemire at the center spot, Carmelo Anthony at power forward, and Baron Davis and Landry Fields returned to the starting lineup.

The Hawks have clinched a playoff spot along with the Knicks but Atlanta has the opportunity to host a first round playoff series, which placed a higher priority on Sunday’s contest for the home team.

Both coaches featured small-ball lineups without any sort of shot blocking presence at the center position. The result was a 65-60 first half lead for the Hawks while each squad hovered around the 60 percent mark from the floor.

The intensity level jumped several notches at the Highlight Factory in the third quarter. New York raced out to a 12-1 run out of the locker room behind a couple of treys from Fields and a 3-pointer from Baron Davis. The lead was short lived as the Hawks fired back to take a six-point lead with four minutes remaining in the period. Jeff Teague showed his emotion on an old fashioned 3-point play, which ignited a heated discussion with Anthony. Fields and Anthony finished strong, considering Fields scored 16 of his 18 points in the quarter and Antony scored seven in the final four minutes.

A playoff type of battle erupted in the final stanza, starting with a thunderous Stoudemire dunk over Ivan Johnson, followed by a powerful jump hook to give New York a 98-93 lead at the 11:02 mark. The Knicks continued to increase the lead by a small margin, 106-102 with 6:48 remaining but Marvin Williams and the Hawks fought back to tie the game at 106-106 two minutes later to set up a wild finish in Atlanta.

Anthony utilized a strong move to the rack and New York seized a 108-106 lead. Johnson then hit a 3-ball to push the Hawks up one point before Anthony quickly answered with a deep perimeter jumper and New York regained the 113-112 edge.

A couple of solid defensive possessions for the Knicks forced Atlanta into difficult shots. However, after an errant Anthony attempt, the Hawks snatched the board with 3.4 seconds left in the contest. Unable to get the rock to Johnson, Williams had to make a play and drove to the basket on Stoudemire. Williams' shot was altered by Stoudemire as the game buzzer sounded and New York escaped with a 113-112 exhilarating road victory.

Anthony scored a game-high 39 points and Stoudemire posted a double-double with 22 points and 12 boards in his second game back from the bulging disk injury. Davis also enjoyed a nice outing by registering 13 points and 10 assists after missing the last two games and Fields played one of his best games of the season finishing with 18 points, 3-3 from downtown.

Top Knick:
Anthony only recorded 12 points in Cleveland but he quickly regained his swagger in Atlanta with a 39-point outburst. The All-Star shifted back to power forward, nailed 14-of-32 from the floor, 3-of-5 behind the arc, and 8-of-9 at the charity stripe. His crucial buckets lifted the Knicks to an emotional win without Chandler in the lineup as he grabbed 10 rebounds.

Statistically Speaking:
New York was efficient on Sunday afternoon, hitting 54 percent from the floor and 63 percent from the 3-point line. Additionally, all five starters hit double figures in points while improving to 34-30 on the season.

State of the Playoffs:
The win pushed the Knicks up a half game on the Sixers for sole possession of the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference standings. New York would face the Miami Heat if the postseason started today and the team trails Orlando by 3.5 games for the sixth position.

News and Notes:
Woodson told reporters prior to Sunday's contest that forward /center Jared Jeffries will sit out the remainder of the regular season. Jeffries will return to the floor when the playoffs begin next Saturday or Sunday, depending on the scheduled time for New York.

Looking Ahead:
The Knicks completed the three-game road trip and they traveled back to New York on Sunday evening. Two games are left on the Knicks schedule, including the home finale on Wednesday against the Clippers and Thursday on the road in Charlotte. Monday and Tuesday will serve as rare practice / rest opportunities for the squad.

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