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Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis propel New York Knicks past Atlanta Hawks

By Everett Merrill, The Sports Xchange
Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis propel New York Knicks past Atlanta Hawks
New York Knicks Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony walk to the bench when a the out is called in the second half against the Detroit Pistons at Madison Square Garden in New York City on November 16, 2016. The Knicks defeated the Pistons 105-102. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK - No Noah? No problem for the New York Knicks.

Playing without their center, Joakim Noah, who was sick, the Knicks put together one of their best defensive performances of the season, knocking off the Atlanta Hawks 104-94 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

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Carmelo Anthony poured in a season-high 31 points and Kristaps Porzingis had a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Knicks (6-7), who have won two of their last three and four straight at the Garden.

The Knicks backcourt of Derrick Rose and Courtney Lee scored 14 points each

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It marked the third time this season New York held an opponent under 100 points. Atlanta shot 40 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from beyond the arc.

The Knicks used Kyle O'Quinn, Willy Hernangomez and Marshall Plumlee, who was called up from Westchester in the D-League Sunday morning, as replacements for Noah. The trio combined for 15 points and 17 rebounds.

"They did a real nice job for us," said Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek, of the reserve centers. "We found out about (Noah) at the last second. Kyle had to step in. He did a great job early on."

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Atlanta (9-4) received 19 points from Paul Millsap and 18 points and 18 rebounds from Dwight Howard.

"Against one of the worst defenses in the league and we come out and do that," said a disgruntled Millsap.

The Knicks, who rank in the bottom third in the league in most defensive categories, led by as many 13 points in the fourth quarter.

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A basket by Anthony gave New York a 70-55 cushion, its biggest lead to that point, with 3:47 left in the third quarter.

Just before Porzingis picked up his fourth foul, the Knicks went on a 12-0 run for a 64-51 lead with 5:11 left in the third quarter.

In just 17 minutes of the first half, Howard had already posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Anthony and Porzingis accounted for 59 percent of the Knicks' 46 first-half points. The duo combined for 27 points. The teams were a combined 3 of 23 from beyond the arc.

"I thought we did a great job of not getting off to a slow start," said Anthony. "Today was just more about playing off the guys ... playing off Derrick (Rose). Defensively we more confident."

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Tim Hardaway Jr.'s 3-pointer with 30 seconds left in the second quarter brought the Hawks within 44-41. However, Knicks guard Courtney Lee countered with a layup 17 seconds later to boost the Knicks' lead to 46-41.

A short jumper by Porzingis gave the New York a 34-24 edge with 7:33 left in the second quarter, but a 7-1 run from the Hawks narrowed the Knicks' lead to 35-31 with 5:20 left.

O'Quinn scored six points and grabbed seven rebounds but committed three fouls as the Knicks led 24-20 after the first quarter.

"I think we were ready defensively today," said Porzingis. "We were consistent throughout the game."

NOTES: Knicks F Lance Thomas missed his fourth straight game with an assortment of injuries. He has a bone bruise in his left ankle and plantar fasciitis in both feet. ... Atlanta C Tiago Splitter's return from a Grade 2 hamstring strain that has forced him to miss the start of the season is uncertain. ... Former Knicks reserve G Tim Hardaway Jr. has posted four 20-point games for the Hawks. He ranks fourth on the team in scoring at 12.8 points per game. ... The Knicks activated C Marshall Plumlee from Westchester of the D-League to replace C Joakim Noah, who was out with an illness. Kyle O'Quinn started in place of Noah. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer on C Dwight Howard's ejection after a flagrant-2 foul on Friday night in Charlotte: "To be ejected was probably the right thing. He (Howard) knows it. He also knows he wants to continue to play physical and be a presence on the boards."

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