NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks won what was essentially a glorified scrimmage when they knocked off the Atlanta Hawks, 98-92, in the regular-season finale on Wednesday.
Most of each team's main stars sat out the anti-climactic contest, as neither squad really needed the game to improve its standing in the Eastern Conference playoffs' bracket.
New York took control of the game early when it raced out to a 25-16 lead after the first quarter as players like Pablo Prigioni and newly-signed big man Earl Barron got the start for the Knicks (54-28). The sixth-seeded Hawks (44-38), meanwhile, received balanced scoring from their makeshift starting lineup as all but DeShawn Stevenson (1-of-11 shooting) notched double figures in scoring.
Hawks' head coach Larry Drew rested his star big men Josh Smith and Al Horford, while Knicks' head coach Mike Woodson sat Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler, and Kenyon Martin. All are expected to play Saturday in the opening round matchup against the Boston Celtics.
Not all was lost for the Knicks, though, as players like Prigioni, Barron, and Chris Copeland took advantage of the extended playing time. Prigioni, who sprained his right ankle in the waning moments of the first quarter, finished with eight points, five rebounds, three assists, and a steal in the first quarter before bowing out for good. X-rays on the ankle were negative.
Barron, who was signed just hours before tip-off and is beginning his second tour of duty with the Knicks, added seven points and four rebounds in the first quarter. He had 11 rebounds for the half, and finished with a career-high tying 18 caroms.
Copeland also impressed as he tallied a career-high 33 points (18 in the first half), as he became the first Knicks' rookie since Bill Cartwright in 1980 to notch back-to-back 30-point games.
Iman Shumpert, the lone regular starter for the Knicks who actually played in the game, flirted with a triple-double with 18 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists. The game was such an equal-opportunity affair that even James White, who entered the game averaging just seven minutes per game, contributed 20 points (8-of-15 shooting) in 44 minutes of action.
The Hawks were led by six points apiece in the first half from John Jenkins and reserve Ivan Johnson, who was making the rare start at power forward. Mike Scott and Jenkins led the Hawks with 20 points apiece.
NOTES: After being rested along with J.R. Smith Tuesday against Charlotte, Anthony was inactive on Fan Appreciation Night. Chandler and Stoudemire also were inactive and Martin did not dress because of a sprained left ankle. ... Anthony won the NBA's scoring title with 28.7 points per game. He dethroned three-time defending scoring leader Kevin Durant, who sat out the Thunder's regular-season finale Wednesday. Durant (28.1 average) would've needed to score 70 points against the Milwaukee Bucks to overtake Anthony. Anthony is the first scoring champion for the Knicks since Bernard King averaged 32.9 points in 1984-85. Like Anthony, King played fewer games than his primary competition in claiming the points title. King played 55 games; Anthony played in 67. ... Atlanta rested multiple starters for the second consecutive game, including forward Horford with a chest strain. "We're going to err on the side of caution," Drew said. ... The Knicks signed Quentin Richardson Tuesday and made another roster move Wednesday, signing center Barron. Barron played for the Knicks in 2010-11. He replaces Rasheed Wallace, who announced his retirement Wednesday morning.