ATLANTA (AP) -- Salim Stoudamire felt like he was back at Arizona, winning games and blowing opponents out.
"I felt like I was in college again," said Stoudamire, a rookie who was used to winning at Arizona. "That's one of the best feelings in the world. You don't have to worry about anything."
New York's Antonio Davis was set to return from a five-game suspension, handed down by the NBA after he charged into the stands in defense of his wife at Chicago.
But Davis was a late scratch from the starting lineup because of a sore back. He watched from the bench as the Knicks were humiliated by the Hawks, who came into the night tied with Charlotte for fewest wins in the league.
The 19-point margin of victory was the largest of the season for the Hawks, eclipsing two 11-point wins. They just fell short of their highest-scoring game of the season, a 122-111 victory over the Knicks, appropriately enough.
"We were acting like we just wanted to get home," coach Larry Brown said. Asked if some of his players gave up as the Hawks pulled away, he replied, "It looked that way, didn't it? Didn't it look that way to you. It looked that way to me."
Johnson could hardly believe his eyes when he looked up early in the fourth quarter and saw the score: Atlanta 99, New York 69.
"That's unusual for us," he said. "I got a chance to sit out the last six or seven minutes and rest up for the next game. That's always a plus."
Atlanta took control with a 12-4 run to close the first half. New York totally fell apart in the third quarter with a staggering 12 turnovers, which led to 17 points for the appreciative Hawks.
"It's a great feeling being on the other end," Harrington said. "We know a lot of games are not going to be like this. We've had a problem keeping leads."
The Knicks' carelessness with the ball came in all shapes and sizes. They lost it out of bounds. They made bad passes. They threw it back over the half-court line. They were called for offensive fouls. They even double-dribbled.
New York already led the league in turnovers (17.29 per game), and this was one of their worst displays yet.
"Did you see them pressing us?" Brown asked sarcastically. "It's every game."
After going up 61-53 at halftime, the Hawks stretched the lead to 92-69 by the end of the third quarter. They made 11-of-19 shots in the quarter, compared with 5-of-14 shooting by the Knicks.
The Knicks lost the ball 23 times in all, leading to a 23-11 edge for the Hawks in points off turnovers.
"Tonight was pretty horrible," said Channing Frye, a teammate of Stoudamire's at Arizona last season. "Especially to watch."
"It was the first time we had a team down and kept them down," Childress said. "It was a big step for us."
New York got most of its production from the backups, as well. David Lee led the Knicks with 18 points, Jackie Butler had 15 and Frye chipped in with 13. Eddy Curry, with 14 points, was the only starter in double figures.
"I wanted to play some of the younger kids," Brown said. "I didn't think there was a way we were going to get back in that
ballgame, the way it was going."
Johnson reached a couple of personal milestones. He scored the 5,000th point and 2,000 field goals of his career. ... Nate Robinson, New York's 5-foot-9 guard, managed to slip inside for an offensive rebound and a putback. It was his only rebound of the night. ... Hawks F Josh Smith, who won last season's Slam Dunk competition, didn't have a good night. He slammed one dunk attempt off the back of the rim, the ball flying into the
stands. Later, he clanked the ball off the basket while attempting a reverse dunk on a lob pass. ... Little-used Esteban Batista played only 11 minutes for Atlanta, but still managed to foul out.
- Eddie F. Rush
- David Jones
- David Guthrie