Jeffries gets start and helps Knicks end losing ways

NEW YORK (AP) -- A different starting lineup led to a different end result.

In his first start of the season, Jared Jeffries had 15 points, seven rebounds, three steals and an assist to help the New York Knicks beat the Atlanta Hawks 94-82 on Wednesday night. Jeffries replaced David Lee in the starting lineup.

"You want your best two defenders out on the floor to start the game," Isiah Thomas said, referring to Jeffries and Quentin Richardson. "Those are our two best defenders."

Eddy Curry had 20 points and nine rebounds for New York. He has scored at least 20 points in 11 straight games, the Knicks' longest 20-point streak since Patrick Ewing did it in 17 consecutive games in 1993-94.

"I think I've got a lot more room to grow," Curry said. "I think I'm definitely coming into my own right now. I just got to try to stay consistent in what I'm doing. If I don't think my team is satisfied with my play, then that's all that matters to me."

After the Knicks committed turnovers on their first three possessions, Curry's three-point play at 10:21 started a 14-5 run and New York never trailed again. The Hawks did manage to tie it at 20 on Shelden Williams' two free throws with 7:34 left in the first half.

However, New York used a 12-3 run, highlighted by consecutive 3-pointers from Richardson, to take its biggest lead of the half, 41-32.

"We made some plays and they were undermanned," Richardson said.

The Hawks were without scoring leader Joe Johnson and Josh Childress.

"These are the games you're supposed to come out and do what you got to do, Richardson said."

During the 12-3 run, Jeffries tried to draw a charge on Josh Smith, but instead was called for a foul and wound up in the locker room getting three stitches in his chin. Jeffries sat out the rest of the half, as the Knicks took a 47-41 lead into the intermission.

"Defensively, he's such a weapon," Thomas said. "He gives you so many ways to play. He's a luxury to have right now. Anything he gives you offensively is a bonus because that isn't a reason that we brought him here."

Jeffries returned and started the second half as the Knicks continued to pull away. New York scored the first four points and the last five points of the quarter, taking a 16-point lead, 73-57, into the final period.

"This team has so many people in different positions," Jeffries said. "The biggest thing I try and do is just whatever I can to help us win."

The domination continued as the Knicks scored the first 10 points of the final quarter and increased their lead to a game-high 30 points, 90-60, on Renaldo Balkman's three-point play with 7:16 left. Curry was pulled after reaching 20 points on a three-point play with 10:09 left.

"I'm adjusting to the way we're playing right now -- dumping the ball down to Eddy," said Stephon Marbury, who had 13 points and six assists. "He has it going right now. He's playing like an All-Star, and he's carrying us right now. I'm just trying to adjust my game to fit around how Eddy is playing."

Nate Robinson also had 13 points for the Knicks.

Marvin Williams led Atlanta with 23 points and seven rebounds. Salim Stoudamire had 12 points for the Hawks.

Game notes
Johnson missed his third straight game due to a right calf strain. He scored 30 points in Atlanta's 102-92 win over the Knicks on Nov. 3 ... Childress missed his 14th straight game because of a sore left foot ... After winning four of its first five games, Atlanta has won only four of its last 16.