Carmelo Anthony already had etched his name in the franchise's record book twice Sunday night, but he still had one more thing to do before he and the Knicks could celebrate.
Anthony's three-point play with 12.5 seconds left gave the Knicks a 106-104 win over the Hawks at the Garden. He had 42 points and tied a club record with nine three-pointers in 12 attempts, all during the first three quarters.
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"It seemed like every time he put it up, it was going in,'' Tyson Chandler said. "He kind of put the team on his back.''
"He came up big with big shot after big shot,'' Mike Woodson said. And every single one of them was needed, because the Knicks played one of their worst defensive games of the season, allowing the Hawks to shoot 60 percent from the field.
"It was just a matter of not letting Josh Smith set his feet, not let the Hawks set their feet," Anthony said. "Just get one step in front of them, catch them off guard, and I had a chance of getting the ball up, getting the shot that I wanted."
After a timeout, the Knicks (27-15) finally got a stop, although Smith got a wide-open look from three-point range. His shot hit the back of the rim.
"That's the longest shot that I ever looked at," Anthony said. "He had a wide-open shot. He almost banked it at that point in time. That's a shot you're looking at the whole time and it's taking forever to just make or miss."
Anthony shot 15-for-28 overall, scoring 26 points after halftime. He tied Richie Guerin's Knicks record with his 29th consecutive game of at least 20 points. Guerin did it during the 1961-62 season. Anthony can break the record Wednesday at the Garden against Orlando.
It's been a while since Anthony shot well. He made 36.3 percent of his attempts in the previous seven games and was 2-for-14 from three-point range in the previous three, including 0-for-6 Saturday. He went 5-for-5 from beyond the arc in his 17-point third quarter Sunday night.
"I was like, 'It's falling once again, the shot is falling once again,' " Anthony said. "When you're feeling it like that, you feel like you can't miss."
J.R. Smith rebounded from his scoreless game Saturday with an 18-point night. Amar'e Stoudemire had 18 points and eight rebounds. Raymond Felton, playing his second game since returning from a fractured right pinkie, had 12 points and 10 assists. Jeff Teague led Atlanta (25-19) with 27 points. Josh Smith had 20.
The Knicks began the fourth quarter with an eight-point lead but gave it away by playing no defense. The Hawks made five of their first seven shots and tied it at 86 with 7:33 left.
The Knicks continued to have defensive lapses. Stoudemire fouled Kyle Korver while he attempted a three with 4:32 left. Korver hit the three foul shots and tied it at 96.
The Hawks took a 102-101 lead with 1:51 to go after Anthony was called for a technical foul for slamming the ball down after getting hit in the face by DeShawn Stevenson. The Knicks regained the lead on Stoudemire's two foul shots with 1:42 left. But Al Horford's dunk eight seconds later put the Hawks up one.
Josh Smith then committed two turnovers, including an illegal screen with 22 seconds left. Everyone knew the ball was going to Anthony and he came through, driving around Smith for the layup and the foul.
"It's something Melo's been doing all year," Felton said. "He's been doing a great job of finishing games for us, closing it out, hitting big shots."