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Knicks beat Hawks, hurting draft lottery odds

Langston Galloway #2 of the New York Knicks

Langston Galloway #2 of the New York Knicks reacts after hitting a three-pointer in the second half against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on April 13, 2015 in Atlanta. Credit: Getty Images / Kevin C. Cox

ATLANTA - The Knicks looked like a team fighting for a playoff spot Monday night and may have hurt their chances of getting the first pick in the draft.

A top-four selection no longer is guaranteed, and now it's possible they will draft as low as sixth.

Playing perhaps their best game of the season, and at the worst time, the Knicks shocked the Eastern Conference's best team. They led the 60-win Hawks by 17 points before holding on for a 112-108 victory.

The Knicks (17-64) no longer have the worst record in the NBA. They're looking down at the Timberwolves (16-65) now, as Minnesota's record is one game worse with one to play.

The team with the worst record has a 25-percent chance of getting the first overall pick and is guaranteed a top-four selection. The second-worst team has a 19.9-percent chance of winning the lottery and can't pick lower than fifth.

If the Knicks and Timberwolves end up tied, they essentially will split the lottery odds. A drawing would determine who gets the extra chance and ultimately is considered the NBA's worst team.

And now the Knicks are only one game "up'' on the 76ers (18-63). If they finish with the same record, a drawing will decide who's second and who's third. The third-worst team could fall to sixth in the draft.

All three teams will play at home Wednesday night. The Knicks will face the Pistons, the Timberwolves will play the Thunder and the 76ers will take on the Heat.

"I'm sure people are upset with us," Knicks coach Derek Fisher said. "But I don't think you can ever go out there and basically try and not play your best. It's a hard thing to do and at the same time say you want to be the best. Those two things don't go together."

The Knicks have put themselves in this position by winning their last two games. They shot 55.8 percent against the Hawks, who played all of their main players except for the injured Paul Millsap.

Rookie Langston Galloway had his best night, shooting 10-for-12 overall and 6-for-6 from three-point range and scoring a career-high 26 points. Tim Hardaway Jr. added 23 and Jason Smith had 20, including two foul shots with 9.3 seconds left to put the Knicks up four.

Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver each scored 19 for the Hawks.

Said Fisher: "I thought our guys, despite our record and despite whatever the probabilities and percentages of us winning this game, in terms of our future -- that has no bearing on these guys' lives and their careers and their livelihoods, who we pick next year. This is about them, and they went out and played that way."

New York Sports