New York lost some ground in the East standings Saturday, losing 87-81 to the Chicago Bulls.
“This time of the year when you play non-playoff teams, they play loose, and sometimes when one’s loose and one’s got a lot on the line, you get an outcome you don’t expect,” Knicks forward Vin Baker said.
The Knicks are in seventh place in the East, one game behind sixth-place Miami and just a half-game ahead of eighth-place Cleveland.
New York not only played without the injured Houston, but lost Thomas to a groin strain after the first quarter. The status of the two starters for Monday’s game is uncertain.
Houston missed his second straight game with a bruised quadriceps, and Shandon Anderson started in his place. Thomas scored eight points in his 12 first-quarter minutes.
Penny Hardaway had 11 points and 11 rebounds for New York, but Stephon Marbury shot just 4-for-18 and scored 10 points.
Atlanta shot 30.8 percent from the floor in the final period.
“We’re a jump-shooting team, and two games in a row, we haven’t shot the ball very well,” Hawks coach Terry Stotts said. “That’s part of our game.”
Wesley Person, playing in his seventh contest since Atlanta acquired him Feb. 9 from Portland, hit the Hawks’ only two 3s.
Hawks forward Chris Crawford missed his third straight game with a sprained left thumb. His status for Monday is uncertain.