The Knicks have won nine in a row at home over Atlanta since an 80-71 loss on March 22, 1999. New York has won four straight against the Hawks, and swept the season series last season for the first time since 1974-75.
New York returned from a 1-3 road trip to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-88 on Sunday. Jamal Crawford scored 13 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter and Kurt Thomas had 16 points and 14 rebounds to help New York end Cleveland’s six-game winning streak.
Thomas gave the Knicks the momentum for good by hitting consecutive jumpers from the corner for an 85-79 lead. Back-to-back baskets by Crawford, the latter a 3-pointer, made it 90-81.
The crowd at Madison Square Garden took particular pleasure in Crawford’s offensive show, growing ever more comfortable with a newcomer who brings added quickness and unpredictability to a position manned by Allan Houston for so many recent years.
“I definitely feel like we have a connection, honestly,” said Crawford, who also had five assists. “They appreciate good basketball, and what me and my teammates are trying to do is win for them.”
Houston, out since late last season with chronic knee soreness, participated in the team’s morning shootaround Sunday but has not yet been cleared to scrimmage.
Atlanta lost for the third time in four games with a 92-79 home loss to the Utah Jazz on Saturday. The Jazz made 11 of 12 free throws in the final 4:18 to fend off the Hawks’ comeback attempt.
Atlanta twice pulled within five points in the fourth quarter but got no closer.
Utah made 17 of 21 free throws while Atlanta struggled from the line and converted only 10 of 22.
“We have to make those,” Hawks forward Al Harrington said. “Maybe we all need to stay and shoot some more, but that kind of stuff will work itself out.”
The Hawks are last in the league in free-throw percentage (62.7).
“The guys make them in practice,” Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. “They’ve got to learn how to make them in the game.”