Knicks 111 - Hawks 122
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L
111
122
New York @ Atlanta
111 - 122
Record: 6-16
Quentin Richardson goes to the hoop (AP Photo)
Quentin Richardson goes to the hoop (AP Photo)
ATLANTA (AP) -- Larry Brown had no trouble summing up what may have been the low point of the New York Knicks' season.

"We had trouble guarding out on the perimeter," Brown said, "and they had an incredible night."

Joe Johnson scored a career-high 36 points and Al Harrington had 35 Friday night as the Atlanta Hawks beat New York 122-111, the Knicks' fifth straight loss.

The Hawks shot 63.2 percent from the field, best in the NBA this season. Atlanta entered shooting 43.6 percent as a team, 25th in the league, and was tied for the most losses with 17.

"Neither team played much defense," said Hawks coach Mike Woodson, a former assistant under Brown during successful runs with Detroit and Philadelphia. "They shot the ball really well, and we were red-hot as well, so those nights sometimes happen."

After allowing Milwaukee and Orlando to combine for 23 3-pointers in consecutive home losses, the Knicks looked lethargic in the first half, when Harrington and Johnson each were 4-for-4 from behind the arc.

New York, which dropped to 6-16 under Brown, was within four points early in the second quarter before Atlanta went on a 23-11 run that ended with Johnson feeding Harrington for a 3.

Jamal Crawford scored 23 points and Stephon Marbury added 21, but he had a game-high six turnovers for the league's most mistake-prone team. Channing Frye added 16 points and seven rebounds for the Knicks, who never led.

"We were making such progress defensively, so I hope we didn't take a step backward," Crawford said. "We have to fight our way out. Nobody is going to throw in the towel."

Johnson and Harrington combined to hit 27 of 37 field-goal attempts. Zaza Pachulia had 11 rebounds for Atlanta, which has won three of four.

"We have to keep this winning attitude, knowing what's got us these three wins," Johnson said. "We have to keep working hard, keep preparing and keep trusting in one another."

New York guard Quentin Richardson wasn't surprised to see Johnson, his teammate last season in Phoenix, shooting so well.

"He showed how good a player he is," said Richardson, who was just 2-for-11 from the floor. "He did the same things when he was with us. He got in a zone."

The Knicks played without center Eddy Curry, who sprained his ankle in practice Thursday.

Brown, the fourth-winningest coach in league history, found some hope in the willingness of New York's front line to work hard despite Curry's absence.

The Knicks outscored Atlanta 56-40 in the paint and 35-18 on second-chance points. Qyntel Woods had a team-high eight rebounds, four of them offensive.

"I've been in games where teams make shots and there's nothing you can do about it," Brown said. "When you have trouble guarding the perimeter, you'll have nights like this."

Woodson likes the current rotations he's established for his young team, but everything revolves around Harrington and Johnson.

"Al and Joe are pretty much the only guys playing in long stretches, and I'm trying to fill everybody else in around those guys," he said. "Those guys in the locker room are the ones getting it done, and that's what it's all about."

Game notes:
Johnson's previous career high of 34 points came Dec. 2 in a 102-101 home loss to Toronto. ... New York had won 12 of 15 against the Hawks, including two of the last three in Atlanta. ... Harrington's 35 points were the previous single-game high for the Hawks in a 125-116 loss at Denver on Dec. 6. ... Dallas had the NBA's best shooting percentage when it hit 59.2 percent in a 119-82 home victory over Detroit Nov. 19.

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