WHAT IT MEANS: Who needs Carmelo Anthony? The Knicks certainly didn't in the fourth quarter of this one, playing their most effective and inspired ball of the game after Anthony was replaced by Amare Stoudemire with 10:13 left in the game. (Anthony never returned.) The Knicks led by only three points at that juncture, but an 11-0 run and an 8-0 run ensued with Stoudemire (26 points) leading the way, and the Knicks were up by 18 before the Hawks knew what hit them. Making the win even more impressive was that the Knicks did it without three key rotation players as Chauncey Billups (deep thigh bruise), Ronny Turiaf (sore knee) and Bill Walker (sore knee) sat out. The fourth-quarter surge delighted a large contingent of Knicks fans who attended the game and watched New York even the season series 2-2 and avoided falling into seventh place in the East behind Philadelphia, which defeated Golden State in overtime.
TURNING POINT: If you were watching on TV with the volume tuned up, it was when you heard the arena turn into something resembling MSG South. After Jamal Crawford pulled the Hawks within one with 9:37 remaining in the fourth quarter, Atlanta had three consecutive turnovers -- with the Knicks scoring after each one -- and didn't make another bucket until 6:51 remained. By then, Stoudemire had been serenaded with an "M-V-P" chant, and the Knicks crowd contingent also roared when Shawne Williams nailed a 3 from the corner off a nifty pass by Stoudemire for a 75-63 lead, completing an 11-0 run. Landry Fields and Roger Mason had 3s in the ensuing 8-0 run.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Aside from the usual crisp 3-point shooting of Williams, the only big boost the Knicks got from their bench came from Anthony Carter, who had played so well in the previous game against Cleveland that coach Mike D'Antoni used him ahead of Toney Douglas down the stretch of the fourth quarter of that game. In this one, Carter came up with three steals and deflections in rapid succession late in the third period, then closed the quarter with a 3-pointer that gave the Knicks a 62-56 lead entering the fourth.
IT'S OK TO CRY: Coach D'Antoni spent the early part of the afternoon watching the Chicago-Miami game, which the Bulls won when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade both missed shots in the final seconds. Afterward, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said some of his players were crying in the locker room. D'Antoni's take: "I've been crying. I don't know about anybody else, but I've been up on the ledge and they’re trying to talk me down. It’s tough. Sometimes guys don't realize the emotional investment into a game, or a series, or a big game, or a losing streak, or not playing well, or 'I missed the last shot.' It's emotional, and you can play with the emotion, some guys more than others, but they leave marks. I can still remember games you lost 20 years ago, and it hurts. You play with passion, you’re going to have that. So I think it's good. I think it's great."
WHAT'S NEXT: In a month of March packed with back-to-backs, the Knicks play their second game in as many nights when the Utah Jazz visit Madison Square Garden on Monday night. The Jazz, who have defeated the Knicks in their last four meetings, are one of 11 teams in playoff contention in the West. They defeated the Sacramento Kings 109-102 on Saturday night. The Knicks then have a road back-to-back at Memphis and Dallas on Wednesday and Thursday.