Knicks, Hawks seek momentum (Dec 28, 2016)

BY AP • December 27, 2016

ATLANTA -- The New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks are searching for momentum to take into the new year.

The teams, who meet Wednesday at Philips Arena, are enduring unsettled seasons. They find themselves bunched in a pack in the middle of the NBA's Eastern Conference with New York in fifth place and Atlanta in a three-way tie for sixth.

The Knicks (16-14) are coming off a 119-114 loss to the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day. That broke a two-game winning streak, which followed a three-game losing streak. The stop in Atlanta begins a three-game road trip.

"We have to be on the same page," New York forward Kyle O'Quinn said. "Communication is the key."

The Hawks (15-16) are smarting from a 104-90 loss at Minnesota on Monday, continuing a win-lose pattern over their last eight games. The game with New York will be the first of a three-game homestand.

"Collectively and individually, we need to be better," Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said.

This will be the second meeting this season. New York won the first game 104-94 on Nov. 20 at Madison Square Garden. Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points and Kristaps Porzingis had 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Knicks.

Part of Atlanta's problems can be attributed to injuries. Center Dwight Howard missed three games with a sore back, but returned for the Minnesota game. Guard Kent Bazemore missed two games with a sore right knee, but has yet to regain his offensive touch. Guard Tim Hardaway Jr. was held out of the game at Minnesota because of right groin injury. And on Monday night, forward Paul Millsap had to visit the doctor after the game to check on swelling that occurred when he was elbowed in the right eye.

Atlanta's other big problem right now is turnovers. The Hawks gave it up 19 times against the Timberwolves and average 15.7 per game, third-worst in the league.

"We need to be better with the ball," Budenholzer said. "It's going to help us be more efficient offensively."

Atlanta must also find a way to slow Anthony, who scored 29 points in the loss to the Celtics, but passed Elgin Baylor to move into 28th place on the NBA's career scoring list. Anthony (22.7 points, 6.0 rebounds this season) averages 26.1 points and 7.6 rebounds in 30 career games against Atlanta.

New York has minor injury issues, too. Courtney Lee (sore left wrist) and Maurice Ndour (sprained right ankle) did not practice Tuesday.



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