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Hawks-Knicks Preview

AP - Sports

The Atlanta Hawks had little trouble in their most recent visit to Madison Square Garden.

The New York Knicks have offered few reasons why this time will be any different.

Al Horford looks to build on one of the best performances of his career as the Hawks look to continue their recent surge with another win over the last-place Knicks on Saturday night.

Atlanta (12-11) has split two season meetings with the Knicks (6-16), but cruised to a 110-90 win on Nov. 13 to end its four-game slide at MSG. The Hawks shot a season-high 56.4 percent from the field while eight players scored in double digits.

Horford only had 12 points in that meeting, but he was much more effective Friday. The All-Star center took an inbounds pass from Pero Antic and hit a jumper at the buzzer to secure a 101-99 overtime win against Washington. Horford matched his career high with 34 points and set another with 15 field goals while adding 15 rebounds.

"We work on that in practice," Horford said of the decisive play with 1.8 seconds left. "We had three options: Me, Paul (Millsap) or Kyle (Korver). I think they overplayed both of those guys. (Antic) gave me a great pass.

"It was supposed to be a lob for a dunk. As soon as I got it, I shot it."

Horford was key to Atlanta's 3-1 homestand, averaging 21.0 points - 25.7 in the victories.

Maintaining that production could help the Hawks snap a three-game road losing streak, but facing New York may be enough.

The Knicks are 3-8 at home, but have won two of the last three there following Wednesday's 83-78 victory over Chicago. However, they followed that up by losing 90-86 at Boston.

New York, which is at the bottom of the Atlantic Division but only 3 1/2 games out of first, has dropped three of four while averaging 84.0 points and making 29.9 percent from beyond the arc.

Improvement from the bench would help. While Amare Stoudemire scored 18 points against the Celtics, the rest of the reserves totaled four.

"Our bench is just as important as the guys who start the game," coach Mike Woodson said. "They've got to understand that and be ready when they come in."

Stoudemire seems to be, averaging 16.0 points in four games after sitting out one with a sore knee. However, he had five points against the Hawks on Nov. 16.

Carmelo Anthony has averaged 34.2 points and made 18 of 33 3-pointers over his last six meetings with Atlanta. The All-Star forward, who is second in the league with 25.6 points per game, scored 26 on Friday but went 0 for 7 from the field in the fourth quarter.

Andrea Bargnani is looking to build on his 22 points from Friday, one more than his combined total from the three previous games. Despite the center's production against the Celtics, he continued to struggle from long range by missing all five of his shots.

Bargnani has missed all nine of his 3-point attempts over the past three games, and his 29.6 percent is well below his 35.8 career mark from beyond the arc.

He's totaled 36 points while hitting 3 of 8 3s over two meetings with Atlanta this season.

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