Knicks back up Dolan's guarantee in Atlanta

ATLANTA -- After the New York Knicks backed up owner James Dolan's guarantee by beating the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night, the team acted like the win was no big deal.

“He said what he said, and we come out here to play," said Carmelo Anthony, who led New York with 25 points despite a shot that continued to stray. "We had to win for ourselves.”

The Knicks topped Atlanta 95-91 with a fourth-quarter rally, but nobody seemed to care much about comments Dolan made Sunday after the Knicks' 31-point home loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Asked about it after the game, Knicks coach Mike Woodson said, “What comments? Every time we step on the floor, I expect to win, expect guys to play to win. I thought tonight was a total team effort.”

It may be said that the Knicks made a statement all by themselves Wednesday.

New York built a 17-point lead by the middle of the second quarter, however, largely on the strength of their 3-point shooting. They made eight of their first 14 3-pointers. Atlanta didn't make a single 3 in that time, trailing 47-30 in the second quarter.

Sure, the Knicks missed 14 straight treys from that point and fell behind by as much as 78-72 when Atlanta's Kyle Korver hit a 3-pointer with 8:33 left in the game.

The Hawks (4-4) were crushing New York in the paint. They had a 48-18 edge in points scored in the lane through three quarters, but the Knicks actually had a 10-8 edge in the final period.

In the fourth, center Andrea Bargnani scored 10 of his 20 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, Anthony added a 3 and Shumpert another as New York outscored Atlanta 30-23 in the final period.

“This was a great way to get back on track,” Anthony said. “Any time you can win on the road, it's always a big win. We came through with a much better effort than we had against San Antonio.”

Woodson was pleased chiefly because his team weathered the storm.

“I thought we held our poise down the stretch," he said. "The third quarter [23-10 in Atlanta's favor] was a disaster. I thought we picked it up in the fourth quarter.”

Several Hawks gave credit to New York's defense, and the Knicks were especially good in the fourth quarter in keeping Atlanta point guard Jeff Teague (25 points, eight assists) out of the paint.

He scored four points in that period but shot just 1-for-6. The Knicks, meanwhile, had but one turnover in the final quarter and a mere three for the game.

“We've got to give [the Knicks] credit,” said Hawks center Al Horford, who had 23 points on 11-for-14 shooting mostly in the paint. “They were good defensively. We need to see what we need to improve on on offense. We see them again in a couple days [Saturday in New York].”

There's a guarantee everybody can count upon.