NEW YORK (AP) – The Atlanta Hawks will try to avoid losing consecutive home games for the first time in more than two months Friday night when they meet a New York Knicks team coming off an impressive home win.
New York (24-21) used one of its best defensive efforts of the season to defeat Miami 93-88 on Thursday. The Heat’s point total was the second-lowest by a Knicks opponent.
“I think we played great defensively from the start,” said Amar’e Stoudemire, announced before the game as the first Knick elected to start an All-Star game since 1992.
New York trailed by nine after three quarters, but outscored the Heat by 14 points in the fourth, giving it back-to-back wins following a season high-tying six-game losing streak. It also snapped a seven-game skid against the Southeast Division leaders.
“It’s important for us mentally,” said Danilo Gallinari, who finished with 20 points. “…Now we know we can beat them. It was an important win.”
Stoudemire finished with 24 points and is second in the NBA with 26.0 per game. He has averaged 33.5 points over his last four visits to Atlanta while with Phoenix.
Landry Fields, third among rookies in 2010-11 with 10.0 points per game, registered 19 with 13 rebounds Thursday. He had 15 and 11 against Atlanta in November.
The Knicks, who lead the league in road scoring (105.8 points per game), have lost four straight and eight of 10 as the visiting team. They’ve been held to 93.0 points over the last three road games.
New York is 4-12 when scoring fewer than 100 points. Atlanta is allowing 92.5 points in its last 11 home games.
The Hawks (29-17) had won 11 of 12 home games prior to recording their lowest point total since relocating from St. Louis in 1968 with a 100-59 loss to New Orleans on Jan. 21.
Coach Larry Drew’s team – which shot a season-low 29.1 percent – beat Charlotte by 16 the next night, but struggled again Wednesday against Milwaukee, as it was outscored 34-15 over the final 12 minutes of a 98-90 loss.
“We cannot allow the snowball effect in the fourth quarter – especially when we have played so well and are right there and then to have a total collapse,” Drew said. “We gave up 34 points in the fourth quarter. There is a high probability that we won’t win many games giving up that point total in any quarter.”
Al Horford returned after missing two games with a sprained right ankle to finish with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
“We just became stagnant on offense,” said Horford, who is averaging 18.0 points and 11.8 rebounds against the Knicks over his career. “It’s a lesson that we are still learning. I don’t think it hurts enough yet because we haven’t done anything about it.”
Joe Johnson, who scored nine points against the Hornets for his third-lowest output of the season, came back with 32 versus the Bobcats before totaling 15 Wednesday. Since he was traded to Atlanta in 2005, Johnson is averaging 26.8 points against the Knicks at home.
The Hawks, who last lost consecutive games at Philips Arena on Nov. 20 and 22, had fallen in five of the last six meetings with New York before a 99-90 road win Nov. 27. Former Knick Jamal Crawford led Atlanta with 21 points.
© 2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.