WHAT IT MEANS: Not only had things been looking worse for the Knicks lately, losing four of their last five, but with 30 minutes before tip-off tonight, Knicks' media relations director Nick Brown informed the media that Amare Stoudemire would be missing his first game of the season. He was dealing with a sprained right big toe, suffered during the Lakers game. But the Knicks made sure the headline tonight wasn't, "Amare sits, Knicks lose!" Instead the headline is, "Knicks make up for Amare's absence and win!" Wilson Chandler, who replaced Stoudemire in the starting lineup, finished with 21 points -- and five blocks -- and the Knicks' bench combined for 44 points. The Knicks are now one game over .500 at 27-26.
TURNING POINT: In the first and second quarters, the Knicks shot 60 and 42.9 percent from downtown, respectively, but in the third they clanked big time, going 1 of 10. (The Nets weren't any better, missing both of their 3-point attempts). Then, with 10:48 remaining in the final period, the Knicks' long-range launches started to find the bottom of the net, and they went on to connect on six 3-pointers.
DIFFERENCE-MAKERS: While Chandler scored his most points since January 24th against the Wizards (25), it was Landry Fields' three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter that put the final exclamation point on the game. Before the final period, Fields was only 0 for 1 from distance. You also have to give a game ball to the Knicks' bench. Coming into the game, they were averaging 25.3 bench points per game -- sixth-worst in the league. Tonight, Shawne Williams, Toney Douglas, Ronny Turiaf and Bill Walker combined for 44 points. Douglas was the second unit's high-man with 19.
WHAT'S NEXT: At home on Wednesday night against the Hawks (33-19), a team the Knicks could see in the first round of the playoffs. Currently the Hawks and Bulls are fighting for the third seed, while the Knicks are in sixth place. This season, New York is 0-2 against Atlanta, and they definitely can't repeat two things they did in their last matchup: Fall behind by 24 points, which they did in the third quarter, and get into an altercations. With 43.7 seconds remaining in the game, Shawne Williams exchanged punches with Hawks forward Marvin Williams, and Shawne ended up getting a one-game suspension. Following the battle-tested game, Hawks forward Josh Smith said, "It was definitely a playoff atmosphere game." Expect another one Wednesday at the Garden.
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