ATLANTA -- One night after banking one of the worst losses of the season in Orlando, Fla., the Knicks lost their grip on a very winnable game when the Atlanta Hawks rallied from a 17-point, third-quarter deficit to send New York home with a 107-98 loss that saddled the Knicks with a 1-3 road trip.
Carmelo Anthony was his usual brilliant offensive self with 35 points -- although he managed seven in the fateful 39-25 fourth quarter -- and Tyson Chandler added a season-high 23 rebounds to go with 10 points.
New York, though, vanished on defense as the free-falling Hawks put together a 20-2 run over the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth to take control for good and end an eight-game losing streak.
Atlanta second-year forward Mike Scott, who scored a career-high 30 off the bench. He didn’t start even though Hawks All-Star forward Paul Millsap was out with a right-knee contusion, and Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer went with a small lineup that featured small forward DeMarre Carroll opening in the power spot.
Atlanta made 16 of 31 3-pointers.
What it means: The Knicks and Hawks split their four-game season series. More importantly, New York fell another game behind Atlanta in the race for the final playoff spot in the East. The Hawks (26-29) lead the Detroit Pistons (23-32), Cleveland Cavaliers (22-34) and then the Knicks (21-35) by 5½ games.
The way it turned: The Hawks scored on seven straight possessions wrapped around the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth, including six straight 3-point shots. The first two came at the end of the third quarter to jump-start Atlanta’s 20-2 burst.
A most excellent timeout: As soon as Scott threw down an alley-oop on a pass from reserve guard Louis Williams early in the second quarter, Knicks coach Mike Woodson called timeout. With 9:35 left in the period, that fast break gave Atlanta a 33-23 lead after the Hawks had scored the first nine points of the period.
All the Knicks did from there was close the second quarter on a 29-6 run for a 52-39 halftime lead.
Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire each scored eight points in the period, and Chandler added eight points and six rebounds.
Keep calm and move along: Things got a bit frosty with 5:47 left in the third quarter when Anthony, Woodson and Carroll all drew technical fouls at a stop in play. It was not immediately clear what all of the fuss was about, but Anthony clearly was chirping aloud about something just moments earlier.
Only one free throw was taken, and Atlanta’s Kyle Korver made it to shrink the New York lead to 63-49.
What's next: After wrapping up a four-game road trip, the Knicks return home -- briefly -- for a Monday game against the Dallas Mavericks. They’ll play Thursday at Miami to kick off a stretch during which four of five games will be on the road. Hopefully, general manager Steve Mills will come up with another player or two, and quick.