The New York Knicks, behind 23 points from All-Star Amar'e Stoudemire, bounced past the Atlanta Hawks 102-90 on Wednesday. Stoudemire, who shot 8-17 from the floor, helped the Knicks win the game from the line, where New York was 17-21 for the game. The Hawks earned just nine free throws, hitting five.
The game was otherwise evenly matched. Josh Smith (6-16) nor Jamal Crawford (3-11) shot particularly well, which held back Atlanta's offense. But New York did nothing so spectacular it had to win. Atlanta, in fact, should have had an advantage thanks to 5-7 shooting on three-pointers by Mike Bibby. But New York held its ground once it took a lead in the first quarter.
It remains to be seen whether New York can catch Atlanta for the No. 5 seed in the East after the All-Star break. The Knicks are 5.5 games back, and without a major trade don't figure to get a whole lot better than "just above .500." But the Hawks aren't as good as their record indicate, and could plummet to Earth as their record gets more difficult. Grabbing No. 5 -- and a likely first-round date with the Magic instead of the Bulls -- would be a huge victory for New York.