|New York vs|
|104 - 88|
Nazr Mohammed had another strong game against the team that traded him last season, scoring 18 points and grabbing 14 rebounds Tuesday night to lead New York past the Atlanta Hawks 104-88.
If the Knicks can defeat Toronto on Wednesday night, they'll move above .500 for the first time in nearly three years.
"I think we're moving in the right direction, but I still feel we have a ways to go," coach Lenny Wilkens said. "I like the intensity we're coming out with now. The defense is getting better."
Stephon Marbury had 11 assists -- all in the first half -- and Jamal Crawford scored 17 as New York moved past Boston and Toronto into sole possession of first place. Marbury scored 16, and Kurt Thomas continued his recent strong play with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Antoine Walker scored 20 and Al Harrington 19 for the Hawks.
Mohammed was acquired in February when Knicks president Isiah Thomas sent Keith Van Horn to Milwaukee in a three-way trade that also netted Tim Thomas. Initially judged to be a secondary player in that deal, Mohammed is turning out to be the more valuable asset.
Mohammed shot 8-for-12 and had three steals, while Tim Thomas missed his first seven shots and finished 1-for-9 for nine points in his seventh single-digit scoring performance among the Knicks' first 10 games.
Last March, Mohammed had 18 points and 13 rebounds last March in his first game against the Hawks, with whom he spent three seasons.
"I wanted a little bit more of an opportunity while I was there, so I kind of showed them what they're missing," Mohammed said.
Atlanta lost at Madison Square Garden for the 10th straight time.
Marbury had seven assists before he attempted his first field goal, and the Knicks led 24-19 after one quarter behind the 4-for-4 shooting of Kurt Thomas.
Marbury got his 10th assist on a jumper by Kurt Thomas that made it 47-39 with 1:49 left before halftime.
"He penetrated and got us wide open looks, and that's what you expect from your point guard," Kurt Thomas said.
Tim Thomas broke his shooting slump on a three-point play that gave the Knicks a 60-48 lead, and Crawford followed by blocking Kenny Anderson's breakaway layup attempt and then sprinting all the way back downcourt to convert a transition layup that turned into a three-point play.
Marbury checked in only briefly in the fourth quarter, knocking down a 22-footer with 1 second left on the shot clock for a 90-73 lead with 7:32 remaining. The Hawks never threatened again.
"We were terrible tonight. The effort wasn't there," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "You can't play a good team like the Knicks and expect to win playing this way.
Hawks G Royal Ivey left in the second quarter with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee. ... C Peja Drobnjak sprained his ankle in the third quarter and did not return. ... Point guard Jamison Brewer made his Knicks debut, and his first basket was an impressive one-handed dunk in transition over Boris Diaw. "That's probably the best way you can let 'em know you're a Knick,' said Brewer, who judged the dunk the best of his NBA career. ... Rookie Josh Childress replaced Diaw in the Hawks' starting lineup and had five steals, five assists, five rebounds, two blocked shots and 13 points.