for this game

Gallinari sharp as Knicks hold off Hawks

Mar 5, 2009 - 5:21 AM NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Someone check Danilo Gallinari's passport.

The Italian forward celebrated Latin Night at Madison Square Garden in style Wednesday, scoring a career-high 17 points as the New York Knicks posted a 109-105 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

Gallinari, for his part, was feeling the love from those in attendance at MSG.

"I heard that a little bit," Gallinari said of the fans' excitement once he touched the ball. "I love the fans here and I hope they love me. So, I'm happy for that."

Larry Hughes scored 23 points and Al Harrington scored nine of his 20 in the fourth quarter for the Knicks, who snapped a three-game losing streak despite the absences of Nate Robinson and Jared Jeffries.

Trailing for most of the game, the Hawks cut a 15-point deficit with three minutes remaining to four with 8.1 ticks left. They then created a steal in front of the Knicks' bench, but Joe Johnson air-balled a three with six ticks left and Atlanta fell short.

The home team, donning jerseys with "Nueva York" in script on the chest, were celebrating New York City's thriving Latino population. It put on a good show in the process, as all five starters scored in double figures.

"That's big. A lot of guys stepped up" said Knicks guard Chris Duhon, who had 14 points and five assists. "Looking at the boxscore, the scoring was pretty balanced and the ball was moving.

"Everybody was taking what the defense gave to us and our defense was pretty solid tonight at most times. It was a huge win for us, and we needed to get back on track."

A 20-year-old rookie forward, Gallinari had it working from all over the court, shooting 6-of-11 from the field, including 4-of-5 on 3-pointers. His confidence, however, was most evident.

Gallinari scored by muscling an opponent under the basket, shooting over defenders and even with a little flair, convincing Atlanta's Zaza Pachulia he was going to drive by him before unveiling a step-back jumper.

"He can shoot it and doesn't have to move," Hughes said of Gallinari. "He doesn't create a lot of space but he is just one of the guys that have a knack for the game. A couple of plays he didn't create any space but he shot it and knew it was good.

"It's nice to have a guy like that on your team."

The Knicks took their largest lead of the game, 95-79, with 9:03 left, when Hughes converted in transition, faking a pass to the wing to shake free for a wide-open layup.

New York, in typical fashion, could not finish easily, allowing Atlanta to pull within seven with 1:31 left on Acie Law's three. Wilson Chandler responded with a tough running bank shot to swing the momentum back on the ensuing possession.

However, the Hawks would not die. Atlanta traded threes for twos in the final two minutes, pulling within six twice and five and four once apiece before falling short.

Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni attributed much of his team's success in this one to Gallinari.

"He played great. We know he's a great shooter, and that is the biggest thing," the coach said. "He also knows how to play. When he doesn't make a good play or something bad happens, it is usually because of a little lack of strength or lack of physical presense and that is when it comes.

"It will come with maturity, comes when he gets completely over his back - but he was really good tonight."

David Lee had 13 points and 14 rebounds for New York, which recorded 12 steals and committed just nine turnovers.

Al Horford collected 20 points and 13 rebounds for Atlanta, which lost for the second time this season at MSG despite all five of its starters scoring in double digits in this one.

The Hawks (34-27) remain in the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference but know they have to be more consistent this season.

"Every game from here on in is going to be big for us, and we have to play with that urgency that we did in the beginning of the season," Atlanta forward Marvin Williams said.

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    ATLANTA 75

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    ATLANTA 49

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