A meeting with one of the NBA's worst defensive teams produced the Atlanta Hawks' best offensive performance in 16 years. Hosting the lowly New York Knicks could lead to another real good one.The Hawks look to continue shaking off a sluggish stretch Friday night when they face the Knicks.
Atlanta (13-5) is coming off Wednesday's 146-115 win over Toronto, which ranks 29th in the league in points allowed. The Hawks' scoring output was their best since a 149-123 win over Philadelphia on Jan. 30, 1993, and came after they dropped three of four while being held under 90 points in each defeat.
"It was fun. It was one of those nights where we couldn't miss," said Al Horford, who made 10 of 12 shots for 24 points to lead nine Hawks who scored in double figures.
Atlanta's average of 104.8 points ranks sixth in the league, and is a marked improvement from its 98.1 average last season.
"I think everybody pretty much knows we're an explosive team," said Joe Johnson, who had a season-high 11 assists Wednesday. "Our consistency is where we're lacking. We've got to figure it out on the road instead of just bringing it at home."
The Hawks are 8-1 at Philips Arena, scoring 110.8 points per game.
They're likely in for another big game offensively against the Knicks (4-15), who allow 109.1 points per game to rank 28th in the NBA.
Atlanta won 114-101 at New York on Nov. 11 in the only meeting this season. The Knicks have lost three straight and six of seven at Philips Arena.
Horford, averaging 13.5 points and a team-leading 9.7 rebounds, had a season-high 25 points and nine boards in the last meeting with the Knicks. He's averaged 17.7 points and 10.9 rebounds in seven games against them.
The Knicks are looking to bounce back from their sixth loss in seven games, 118-104 at Orlando on Wednesday.
Reserve guard Nate Robinson, averaging 10.9 points this season, was left on the bench for the entire game.
"We want to win, and if he's conducive to winning, then he'll obviously be back in the lineup," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "If not, then not. I'm not going to explain everything. I did not play Darko (Milicic). No one asked me about that. Why didn't I play Marcus (Landry) last game? We could go through the whole thing.
"I won't sit here and explain it, and it's something that we're trying to build a winning group."
Robinson played only 11 minutes Tuesday in a win over Phoenix, going scoreless. In the previous five games, however, Robinson averaged 18.8 points and shot 57.8 percent from the field. That hot stretch came after a Nov. 21 win over New Jersey in which D'Antoni yelled at him for lofting a 3-pointer at the wrong basket at the end of the first quarter that would have counted but came just after the buzzer.
"It's something where you've got to take the good with the bad," Robinson said. "Be ready to play whenever your number is called. That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to do everything I can to be that good teammate."
A sprained right ankle caused Robinson to miss the last meeting with the Hawks, but he's averaging 15.2 points over his last five games against them.
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