Knicks 92, Hawks 79
Carmelo Anthony didn't look like himself without his trademark NBA headband.
Turns out New York's star forward didn't feel like himself, either, in a 92-79 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night.
''When I got poked in the eye, it messed my vision up,'' Anthony said. ''I had a migraine throughout the whole game. I was just trying to fight through it. The headband was too tight on my head at that point. I'll be ready for Utah tomorrow night.''
Anthony, who was poked in the eye in the first quarter and later hit in the head in the first half, finished with 14 points, his lowest total since New York acquired him in a Feb. 22 trade.
He took off the headband to relieve pressure.
''I really couldn't see,'' Anthony said. ''My eye was blurry. I was seeing double almost the whole game. I was shooting the ball, just trying to get it up to the basket.''
The Knicks, who have won two of three, outscored Atlanta 48-30 after the Hawks took a 49-44 lead in the third quarter, including a 19-2 run that extended into the fourth and ended with Roger Mason Jr.'s 3-pointer.
Anthony, who was 6 for 18 from the field, played only the opening seconds of the fourth quarter as coach Mike D'Antoni wanted to rest him with the lead growing.
''I was going to give him two minutes, maybe three (of rest), and then we started going,'' D'Antoni said. ''We've got a game tomorrow night, and he's played heavy minutes.''
The Knicks hit eight of their last 11 field-goal attempts and kept their composure following a home loss to Cleveland. Injuries kept starting point guard Chauncey Billups (knee) and reserves Ronny Turiaf and Bill Walker sidelined.
Stoudemire was serenaded several times in the third and fourth quarters with chants of ''MVP!'' by a huge turnout of Knicks fans.
The cheering gained momentum as he hit a pair of free throws midway through the third quarter to put New York up 72-63. It was just as loud when Stoudemire left the game for good in the closing minutes.
''I thought we were home for a second, so many New York fans cheering us on,'' Stoudemire said with a smile. ''It felt like a home game in the fourth quarter.''
Atlanta took its first lead at 45-44 when Smith began the third quarter with a 3-pointer, but there were six lead changes in the period.
Anthony Carter, acquired in the Feb. 22 trade with Denver that brought Anthony and Billups to the Knicks, helped push New York's lead to six at the end of the third.
After stealing the ball from Jeff Teague near midcourt, Carter hit a hesitation floating layup to make it 60-56 before his straightaway 3 with 2 seconds remaining pushed the lead to six.
The Knicks held Hawks center Al Horford to just four points in 40-plus minutes. It was Horford's least productive game since he scored two points in the season opener.
''Everybody's tired physically,'' Atlanta coach Larry Drew said. ''Everybody's tired mentally. I didn't think Al played with the type of energy he showed in (scoring 31 in a victory Wednesday over Chicago). He did a good job of getting into the post, but he was guiding his shots. He didn't get into a rhythm.''
Anthony's rhythm was spotty, too. He said he consulted with an ''eye doctor'' after Horford poked him in the eye late in the first quarter. Anthony missed a jumper on the play and quickly fell down covering his face near the Knicks' bench, but seemed fine after D'Antoni called timeout.
Headaches have bothered Anthony in the past.
''I've dealt with that before,'' Anthony said, ''but not from a poke in the eye.''
New York's strong defensive performance in the second half made him feel better. Joe Johnson, Atlanta's leading scorer this season, and sixth man Jamal Crawford, the team's fourth-leading scorer, each finished with 14 points.
''We did a hell of a job tonight,'' Anthony said. ''On everybody. On Joe, on Horford, on Crawford.''
Notes: The Hawks dropped to 25-13 against the Eastern Conference, including 13-5 at Philips Arena. ... D'Antoni is hopeful that Billups and reserves Turiaf (left knee) and Walker (left knee) will be ready to face the Jazz at Madison Square Garden on Monday. ... Smith pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds. ... Anthony and Douglas each had a game-high seven assists.