Knicks-Hawks Preview

While Arron Afflalo's breakout game to open this week supplied hope for another New York Knicks rebound, it also signaled a step back for the Atlanta Hawks.

He can help extend both trends two days later.

Afflalo will try to follow up his monster game in the second half of a home-and-home set Tuesday night when the Knicks visit the Hawks for the third meeting in 11 days.

New York (16-19) dropped the first two matchups against Atlanta this season but won 111-97 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden behind Afflalo's season-high 38 points, five shy of his career best. It was the second win in three games for the Knicks after suffering their third four-game losing streak since late November, and just their second in the last seven against the Hawks.

No other Knicks player scored more than 16 - including a quiet 11 from Carmelo Anthony - as Afflalo converted on 7 of 8 3-pointers and 14 of 17 shots overall. His 82.4 field-goal percentage was his best when attempting more than six shots.

It was a stark contrast to Afflalo's 31.7 shooting percentage while averaging 7.8 points the previous six games - five of them losses for New York.

''For me, consistency is more important than great games and very bad games," Afflalo said. "The more I can be counted on night in and out, the better it is for the team.''

Afflalo's inconsistencies line up with the Knicks' up-and-down season. They are 8-2 when he scores 15 or more points, but 4-13 when he plays and scores 14 or fewer. He missed the first eight this season with a strained left hamstring.

The last time the nine-year veteran scored more than 30 points - 31 in a loss to Houston on Nov. 29 - he followed with an average of 10.8 over the next five games. He has shot 55.3 percent while averaging 17.7 points in the 12 New York wins he's played in and 40.9 percent for 10.5 points in the 15 losses.

''To be honest, I play 30-plus minutes,'' Afflalo said. ''If you're going to have a player out there that long, he has to be effective.''

Afflalo had 10 points in a 117-98 loss at Atlanta on Dec. 26 and sat out a 112-101 home loss on Oct. 29. He entered Sunday averaging 8.9 points in his first 21 career games against the Hawks.

Atlanta (21-14) held New York to 40.9 percent shooting in late October and clamped down defensively in the second half of the December matchup for a sixth straight win overall. The Knicks, though, became the second straight opponent to shoot 50 percent against the Hawks on Sunday.

New York made 11 of 26 3-pointers, the second straight game Atlanta has surrendered that many makes from deep, and won the rebounding battle 46-32. Atlanta closed a three-game trip 1-2.

''We just didn't have our game (Sunday) and New York is part of the reason we didn't have our game,'' coach Mike Budenholzer said. ''We'll have to prepare, think about what it takes to execute better on both ends and we'll do that before Tuesday.''

While the Hawks have won four straight home games, the Knicks have lost four in a row and nine of 11 on the road.

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