Surging Knicks invade Atlanta

The New York Knicks aim to build off their recent win over Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic when they invade Atlanta tonight to take on the Hawks at Philips Arena.

The Knicks have won three in a row and eight of nine games, and are coming off Wednesday's 108-86 blasting of the Magic at Madison Square Garden. Carmelo Anthony and Iman Shumpert both scored 25 points, while Steve Novak netted 16 for New York, which won its sixth in a row at home and was playing without forward Amare Stoudemire (back) and guard Jeremy Lin (knee).

"They are double teaming 'Melo," said Shumpert. "I know I'm gonna get left open a lot more. With Jeremy out and Amare out, I'm gonna have a lot more open shots and I have to step into them with confidence and knock them down."

The Knicks used a 21-0 run during the third quarter to pull away and moved over the .500 mark for the first time since they were 6-5 back in January.

New York will try to improve on its 9-15 road ledger tonight and is 2 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. It is also just 2 1/2 games behind Philadelphia and Boston for Atlantic Division bragging rights.

Atlanta has dropped two in a row since winning four straight and suffered a 98-77 loss versus Chicago on Wednesday.

Josh Smith led the Hawks with 19 points and seven boards, while Jeff Teague added 13 points and eight assists. Joe Johnson was good for 12 points for Atlanta, which is seeded sixth in the East and fell to 16-8 at home.

"We just seemed to get stuck in the mud," said Atlanta head coach Larry Drew. "We just couldn't overcome it (the slow start)."

Smith has been anything but dull lately, averaging 22.8 points in his last 19 games. The Hawks are 18-4 when he hits the 20-point mark this season.

The Hawks suffered a 99-82 loss at New York on Feb. 22 this season and have dropped three straight and eight of the past 11 matchups between the teams. New York has prevailed in three of four trips to the Peach State.