ATLANTA — The East-leading Atlanta Hawks received a jarring wake-up call with the playoffs less than a week away.
Coming out lazily against the NBA’s second-worst team, the Hawks fell way behind in the first half and couldn’t come all the way back, dropping a 112-108 stunner to the New York Knicks on April 13.
Rookie Langston Galloway scored a career-high 26 points, hitting all six of his 3-point attempts. Two of them helped the Knicks regain control after the Hawks rallied from 17 points down to tie the game early in the fourth quarter.
“They played well,” said Atlanta’s Jeff Teague, who missed a potential tying shot with about 10 seconds to go. “It’s nothing to panic over. Just one of those games.”
But Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer became so frustrated with his team that he called a timeout just 14 seconds into the second half, perturbed at the way they were running the play drawn up during the halftime break.
Not even waiting for his players to come to the bench, Budenholzer met them on the Hawks logo at midcourt, barked some instructions, and stomped back to the bench.
“That was the whole theme of the game,” Teague said. “We were just not into it.”
Atlanta came into its final home game of the regular season having long ago clinched the top seed in the East and leading New York by 44 games in the standings.
It sure didn’t play out as expected, even after the Hawks tied the game at 87 on Shelvin Mack’s 3-pointer with 9:49 remaining.
The Knicks, the NBA’s lowest-scoring team, responded as they have so few times during their miserable season — with three straight 3-pointers to reclaim control, Galloway hitting a pair sandwiched around another by Lance Thomas.
Tim Hardaway Jr. added 23 points for the Knicks, and Jason Smith had 20.
New York has won two straight — its first winning streak since Feb. 27-28. “As players, we’re trying to go out there and win the last games that we have,” Smith said.
Knicks coach Derek Fisher realizes that many of the team’s fans want them to lose out, so they’ll have the best chance at winning the draft lottery.
“I’m sure people are upset with us,” Fisher said. “But I don’t think you can ever go out there and basically try and not play your best.”
Teague and Kyle Korver led Atlanta with 19 points apiece.
The final minutes were played with playoff-like intensity, the Hawks seeming almost embarrassed by their performance and scrambling to come back.
They had a chance after Korver hit his fourth 3-pointer off an offensive rebound with 51.8 seconds left, cutting New York’s lead to 109-106.
The Hawks then came up with a steal, setting up Mike Muscala’s dunk off a fast break to cut it to a single point.
Hardaway was fouled and made one of two free throws, setting up the Hawks for a final shot. Teague got the look he wanted, a floater in the lane, but the ball bounced out. Smith knocked down a pair of free throws to seal the victory.
“I’ll take that shot every day,” Teague said.
(PAUL NEWBERRY, AP Sports Writer)