Hawks overcome shaky start to nip Knicks late

ATLANTA (AP) -- In seven games with Atlanta, Mike Bibby has learned that Josh Smith can jump.

"All I have to do is throw the ball anywhere near the rim and he'll go get it," Bibby said.

Bibby and Smith connected for a go-ahead, alley-oop dunk with 1:12 left, and the Atlanta Hawks overcame a shaky start to the fourth quarter to beat the New York Knicks 99-93 on Friday night.

Smith had 25 points and nine rebounds, and rookie Al Horford and Joe Johnson each added 20 points for the Hawks. Horford set a career high.

"He makes the game easy for me, for everyone," Horford said of Bibby.

Smith said it hasn't taken long to develop chemistry with Bibby.

"That's just a trust he has in me, and the confidence that I'm going to go get it," Smith said. "He's a very crafty player."

Bibby, playing his second home game since his trade to Atlanta, had his second straight double-double with 11 points and 10 assists. He said he is enjoying playing with his new young teammates.

"Big Al stepped up, Marvin [Williams], Josh, everybody's playing hard," Bibby said. "You can't teach playing hard.

"It's going to be tough to get us down. When we play hard, there's not many people that can stop the young guys. They can go to the basket, they have jump shots."

The Hawks had no defensive answer for New York's Zach Randolph, who had a season-high 29 points and 17 rebounds.

"I was just trying to be aggressive, establishing a game in the post and going to the basket," Randolph said. "Unfortunately, we could not get any shots to fall late in the game. I think everyone was getting good looks. We just could not execute."

Jamal Crawford added 21 points for the Knicks, who led 91-90 before Smith's alley-oop jam gave Atlanta the lead for good.

It was a painfully familiar script for the Knicks.

"Yeah. I know the ending, unfortunately," Crawford said.

The Knicks, who beat Charlotte on Wednesday, haven't won consecutive games since Jan. 13-16, when they won three in a row.

The Hawks also haven't enjoyed recent consistent success. After beating Sacramento on Wednesday in Bibby's first home game, the Hawks have won back-to-back games for the first time since Feb. 2-6.

The Hawks' lack of success has kept the heat on Mike Woodson, who Friday faced questions about an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report that general manager Billy Knight wanted to fire the coach after the trade for Bibby on Feb. 16. The owners stuck with Woodson.

"It's not about my job," Woodson said after the game.

Knight refused to address the issue, saying, "I don't comment on stuff like that. It's ridiculous to even get into that."

Atlanta, ninth in the Eastern Conference, still has three more games left against the Knicks.

The Hawks, who committed only four turnovers in the first three periods, had six turnovers in the final period as the Knicks briefly took a late lead.

The Knicks led 88-83 with 8:01 left before the Hawks answered with five straight points, including a 3-pointer by Smith. The Knicks went ahead 91-90 on an inside spin move by Randolph with 2:52 left. The lead held until Bibby's pass set up Smith's go-ahead jam.

Following a missed 3-pointer by Crawford, Bibby's jumper with 35 seconds left gave Atlanta a 94-91 lead. Bibby added two free throws with 11.5 seconds left.

Smith committed the Hawks' only two turnovers in the first half, but New York led 50-48 at the break as Randolph had 15 points and 12 rebounds.

The Hawks took their biggest lead at 77-69 with 3:26 left in the third quarter before settling for an 81-78 advantage entering the final period.

The Knicks scored the last two baskets of the third quarter and opened the fourth with back-to-back field goals by Fred Jones. Crawford added two free throws to complete a 10-0 run for an 84-81 lead.

Game notes
There were 26 lead changes and 14 ties. ... Woodson said PG Acie Law has been cleared to return from a sprained right wrist. Law was not in uniform but might play Sunday at Boston, according to Woodson. ... Williams returned after missing one game with flu symptoms but scored only nine points.

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