Johnson loves NY: Big night leads Hawks past Knicks

ATLANTA (AP) -- New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas warned his
players that a young and athletic Atlanta team would provide a
difficult matchup.

The Hawks didn't disappoint.

Even with projected starter Marvin Williams out with a broken
hand, the Hawks took advantage of their improved depth to push the
tempo and run away with a 102-92 victory over the Knicks on Friday

The Hawks' only regret was they failed to maintain the up-tempo
pace they used to take control in the second quarter.

"We've definitely got to be a running team; we've got too many
athletes," said Joe Johnson, who scored a game-high 30 points to
continue his success against the Knicks.

Johnson averaged 28.8 points against the Knicks last season --
his second-best mark against any team. He was 12-of-24 from the
field and added eight assists to lead the Hawks to their first win.

Zaza Pachulia added 22 points and Josh Childress had 12 for the
Hawks, who led by 13 points following a 10-0 run packed with
fast-break points in the second quarter.

"It's a tough team for us to match up against on the offensive
glass," Thomas said, adding he gave his players the same scouting
report before the game.

"A couple of times we had inside position, our guys were trying
to block out, but with their length and their athleticism they were
able to come over the top and get the basketball."

The Hawks had a 15-11 edge in offensive rebounds. Rookie Shelden
Williams, starting while Marvin Williams is out for about a month,
led the team with six offensive boards and nine rebounds overall.

Johnson hit three 3-pointers early in the third quarter as the
Hawks took a 60-43 lead.

Johnson led the Hawks in six categories while averaging 20.2
points last season, following a trade from Phoenix. After the Hawks
lost forward Al Harrington to free agency and added point guard
Speedy Claxton, Johnson may spend less time passing and more time
scoring this season.

"I do take on a bigger role, a bigger responsibility," Johnson

Said Claxton: "That's what we need him to do. He's our go-to

Eddy Curry led New York with 20 points but finished with five
fouls and only two rebounds.

"I think if they let him play, the league will enjoy watching
this big guy develop," Thomas said of Curry. "I think he's got a
chance to be pretty special in this league."

Added Knicks guard Stephon Marbury of Curry: "When he has it
going, we've got to pound the ball inside to him."

Quentin Richardson added 19 points but managed only three after
picking up his fifth foul late in the third quarter. Nate Robinson
scored all of his 15 points in the final quarter.

The Knicks, who won only eight road games last season, were
denied a second straight victory away from home after winning their
season-opener at Memphis.

New York, led by Curry and Richardson, recovered with a strong
third quarter to trail 72-66. Johnson had 11 points in the quarter
while going 3-of-5 from 3-point range to protect the lead.

Richardson drew his fifth foul with 49 seconds left in the third
quarter and did not return until 6:01 was left in the game.

The Knicks pulled within 83-80 before the Hawks pushed the lead
back to nine points.

Game notes
F-C Lorenzen Wright made his season debut for Atlanta and
had three points in 15 minutes. He was suspended for the Hawks'
opener for his role in an altercation in a preseason game. ... G
Steve Francis, 0-for-6 from the field while scoring only two points
in the Knicks' opener, was scoreless in the first half. He finally
broke through with his first field goal at the 8:26 mark of the
third quarter and finished with nine points and nine assists.