The Atlanta Hawks have to be thrilled the All-Star break is right around the corner and they're one of the teams that could use the rest.
The Hawks are without leading scorer Joe Johnson through the All-Star break because of tendinitis in his left knee and he is averaging 7.6 points per game. Johnson was selected as a reserve for the East and was supposed to participate in the All-Star festivities. He was forced to leave Monday's loss at Chicago because of the injury.
Atlanta dropped its third straight game and eighth in 11 tries with last night's 99-82 setback to Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks in the finale of a five-game road trip (1-4) at Madison Square Garden. Jeff Teague scored a team- best 18 points, while Willie Green had 16 and Josh Smith added 13 for Atlanta, which shot 39.5 percent for the game and trailed 60-35 at halftime.
"I thought they did a good job of dictating the pace of the game early," Hawks head coach Larry Drew said about the Knicks. "We took a lot of ill-advised shots and we turned the basketball over, which you can't do on the road."
Marvin Williams had no points in 26:48 and returned from a one-game absence.
The Hawks will open a four-game homestand tonight that will carry them through the mid-season break. They will also host Golden State, Milwaukee and Oklahoma City and are 9-5 in the ATL this season.
In 31 of the 34 games this season for Orlando, All-Star center Dwight Howard has led the team in rebounding. Howard hopes to continue that lopsided trend against the rival Hawks and is coming off a 20-point, 17-rebound effort in last night's 108-91 victory in New Jersey.
Glen Davis scored 12 of his 16 points during a big run with Howard on the bench because of foul trouble and Ryan Anderson had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Magic, winners of two straight and 10 of 13 games.
"We're playing great basketball. We have to keep it up, stay humble, stay focused and continue to push," said Howard, who owns 27 double-doubles on the season
"We're in a good position and we don't want to lose that position. We have to come back the second half and have a better second half."
Magic swingman Jason Richardson missed his third straight game with chest and rib problems and could be out through the All-Star break. Richardson is averaging 12.2 points in 26 games this season.
The Magic are 10-6 away from home and will visit Washington after the break to close out a five-game road trip (2-1).
Orlando dropped an 89-87 overtime decision to Atlanta at Amway Center on Feb. 10 this season and has lost four straight and five of the last six meetings in this series. The Magic have also suffered defeat in three straight and nine of their previous 13 contests in the Peach State.