New York, NY – In a contest between two playoff-bound teams with little to play for, Chris Copeland scored a career-high 33 points and the New York Knicks wrapped up their regular season with a 98-92 victory over the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden.
Already locked into the No. 2 seed in the East, the Knicks (54-28) rested most of their starters, including 2013 scoring title champ Carmelo Anthony, and will carry a 10-game home winning streak into their first round showdown with the division rival Boston Celtics, which will begin on Saturday.
"I'm excited," Copeland said of the upcoming series. "We have a great team, we're deep and we have a lot of experience."
The Hawks (44-38), only able to move up with a win and a Chicago loss, chose to rest starters Al Horford, Josh Smith and Jeff Teague among others. Officially locked into the sixth seed, Atlanta will face third- seeded Indiana and begin its series on Sunday.
"They're a good team. It's going to take a heck of an effort to beat them in a seven-game series," Hawks head coach Larry Drew said of the Pacers.
Earl Barron, signed off the street earlier Wednesday after Rasheed Wallace announced his retirement, tallied 11 points and a game-high 18 rebounds for the Knicks. James White added 20 points and Iman Shumpert finished with 18, eight assists and seven rebounds.
Mike Scott totaled 23 points and 14 rebounds and John Jenkins scored 20 in the setback for Atlanta.
New York, plagued by injuries all season, couldn't avoid one more in the regular season finale. Late in the first quarter, starting guard Pablo Prigioni turned his ankle and was forced to leave the game. He did not return, but X-rays were negative.
After Barron's bucket tied the contest at 2-2 early in the first, the Knicks never trailed again. They built a 12-point first quarter lead and took a 25-16 edge into the second.
Quentin Richardson, signed by New York on Tuesday, hit a 3-pointer to open the second frame to push the lead back to double digits. The Hawks tied the contest at 37-37 with 3:28 left in the quarter, but Copeland scored the Knicks last eight points to send the hosts into the break with 45-39 lead.
Trailing by as many as 15 points in the third, Atlanta came as close as two, 78-76, in the fourth quarter, but the Knicks broke it open with an ensuing 17-2 run to close the deal.
Richardson played for the Knicks from 2005-09. He scored five points and had 10 rebounds in 29 minutes of play ... The Hawks were 2-for-21 from 3- point range.