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Knicks waste 15-point lead, lose fourth straight

New York Knicks players and coaches watch from

New York Knicks players and coaches watch from the bench as an NBA game against the Atlanta Hawks winds down on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014, in Atlanta. Credit: AP / John Amis

ATLANTA - Carmelo Anthony was on the court two hours before Saturday night's game, getting some extra shooting in, hoping to get in rhythm and break out of his slump. But he wasn't anywhere to be found in the last three quarters.

He disappeared, but he had company in that department.

The Knicks wasted a 15-point first-half lead and fell to the Hawks, 103-96, at Philips Arena for their fourth straight loss.

As much as the Knicks' offense failed them against the Hawks' pressure in the second half, their defense let them down again. They let Jeff Teague break them down and gave Kyle Korver open three-pointers all night. Korver was 6-for-9 from three-point range and had 27 points. The Knicks (2-5) were outscored 57-35 in the final 24:10.

"They made an adjustment and I don't think we did a good job at adjusting or keeping the same energy and focus up that we had in that first half," Anthony said. "It seemed like when they put the pressure up on us a little bit, we kind of got back into that same position we were in the last couple of games."

Anthony was 18-for-64 from the field in the previous three games but got off to a great start Saturday night, shooting 6-for-10 and scoring 14 points in the first quarter.

After that, however, he was 2-for-10 and had six points. It was the first time he reached 20 in four games, but it didn't matter.

"I felt great," he said. "Coming into the game, I felt good. First quarter, I felt good. I just kind of cooled down from there. I can't really put a finger on what happened."

Iman Shumpert, who blamed himself for the loss to the Nets on Friday night because of his defense on Deron Williams, bounced back with a 19-point, seven-assist game before fouling out in the final minute. But he had trouble staying with Korver.

Tim Hardaway Jr. added 15 points and Amar'e Stoudemire had 14 points and nine rebounds.

Teague scored 19 for Atlanta. The more aggressive Hawks also shot 28-for-36 from the line, compared to 8-for-11 for the Knicks. "We couldn't figure out a way to defend without fouling," Derek Fisher said.

Fisher changed the starting lineup for the fourth consecutive game, going small with three guards, Anthony at power forward and Samuel Dalembert at center. It looked like a brilliant move as the Knicks built a 61-48 halftime lead.

But Atlanta ended the third quarter on a 14-3 run and outscored the Knicks 27-13 in the quarter. After going ahead 71-61, the Knicks missed eight of their last nine shots and had five turnovers in the last six minutes.

"The third quarter, that's what really cost us," Fisher said. "We've had that happen to us a handful of times, a couple in the preseason, and earlier in the regular season so far, we've had that one big quarter turning the game."

The Knicks went ahead 85-79 on Hardaway's three-pointer with 7:36 to go, but Teague continued to get in the paint and Korver buried them with his long-range shooting.

Atlanta went on a 15-3 run and took a 94-88 lead on Teague's driving layup with 4:08 left. Korver knocked down two three-pointers in that stretch.

Shumpert drove and scored inside with 2:17 left to make it 94-90. The Knicks had a chance to draw closer, but Shumpert misfired on a jumper and Al Horford fed DeMarre Carroll for a wide-open three-pointer that gave Atlanta a 97-90 lead with 1:25 to go.

"We lost our energy a little bit there coming out of the half and they attacked us and brought the aggression to us,'' Fisher said. "We just couldn't fight against that enough.''

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