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Stoudemire, Knicks' 'D' stifle Hawks

New York Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire (1) goes

New York Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire (1) goes to the basket past Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith (5) during the second half. (March 6, 2011) Credit: AP

ATLANTA -- Amar'e Stoudemire drove the lane like a skilled point guard, then spun and whipped the ball to the left wing. There Shawne Williams stood, perfectly planted in front of the Hawks' bench, and he smoothly hit a three-pointer.

Despite not having Carmelo Anthony on the floor for most of the fourth quarter, the Knicks made it look easy against the Hawks, using a 19-2 run (including four three-pointers) to draw away to a 92-79 win Sunday night at Philips Arena.

It was the fewest points allowed this season by the Knicks, who were giving up an average of 105.3 a game. They also forced 19 turnovers, including 12 steals.

The Hawks' homecourt advantage was anything but, as fans showered Stoudemire (26 points) with "MVP" chants. They screamed "Let's Go Knicks!" as the road team began to pull away in its second victory over Atlanta this season.

"I thought we were home for a second," said Stoudemire, who was pulled with 44.8 seconds left. "There were so many New York fans cheering us on and the confidence just grew from there."

Six players scored in double digits for the Knicks (32-29), including reserves Williams (12) and Anthony Carter (10).

It seems the Knicks' two-hour practice Saturday, which included extensive video study, helped rid them of some bad defensive habits. They probably were paying more attention the day after allowing 119 points in a second straight embarrassing loss to the NBA's worst team, the Cavaliers.

The effort, enthusiasm and physicality were evident against the Hawks (37-26). And with the help of Jared Jeffries' pick-and-roll defense, the Knicks held Al Horford to four points (well below his 16.2-ppg average) and Atlanta to 44.6 percent shooting (33-for-74) from the floor, including 35.3 percent from three-point range.

The Knicks shot 46.8 percent (33-for-74) from the floor and, more impressively, 43.5 percent (10-for-23) from behind the arc.

"Fourth quarter, it was unconscious out there shooting the ball," Stoudemire said.

Anthony, however, had another off shooting night (6-for-18, 14 points). The small forward said a Horford poke to his left eye in the first quarter gave him a migraine so severe that he was forced to toss his sweatband because of the pressure.

"I really couldn't see," said Anthony, who was subbed out with 10:14 left and the Knicks up 64-59. "The eye was blurry. I was seeing double almost the whole game. I was shooting the ball just trying to get it up to the basket, just trying to get the other guys going.''

He said he will be able to play Monday night against Utah.

Asked about his decision to sit the star for most of the fourth, Mike D'Antoni said his intention was to rest Anthony for only two or three minutes.

"Then we were up to 15, and at that point, I might as well leave him over there," D'Antoni said. "Any time I can rest him and Amar'e during these long stretches and not jeopardize the game, I will."

The Knicks maintained their half-game lead over the 76ers -- who defeated Golden State, 125-117, in overtime -- for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

"The biggest thing for us is we started getting stops and our defense created offense," Roger Mason Jr. said. "Our energy basically turned this game around."

Added Anthony: "We did a hell of a job tonight, everybody. On Joe [Johnson], Horford, on [Jamal] Crawford, everybody. We were in the paint, we rebounded, held them to one shot, got out in transition. We knocked some shots down. Our defense gave us a lot of confidence on the offensive end."

Notes & quotes:Chauncey Billups missed his third straight game with a deep left thigh bruise. Ronny Turiaf (sore knee) and Bill Walker (sore knee) also did not play.

New York Sports