The Knicks Finish the First Half With a Bang

Balanced attack sends Knicks to the break at 28-26

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    There's a chance that some of the current Knicks played their last game as New Yorkers on Wednesday night. At least they went out with a bang.

    The Knicks had their most complete performance in quite a while to easily outlast the Hawks 102-90 in the final game before the All-Star break. They return to action next Wednesday night, one day before the trade deadline that is sure to bring some changes to a roster that looked perfectly put together against Atlanta.

    Amar'e Stoudemire showed no ill effects from the toe injury that kept him out over the weekend with 23 points and seven rebounds. He also was able to play an emotionally charged game involving a resumption of his physical battle with Al Horford without picking up another technical. 

    Given how close he is to a suspension because of the technical issue, that's a nice achievement and the team followed his lead in a game that was chippy enough to make you check the calender a couple of times.

    Raymond Felton was his creative, aggressive best in running the offense and Landry Fields, as is his wont, filled the stat book with a little bit of everything. And in the night's most shocking development, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari found a way to play well simultaneously.

    If that last bit happened more often, if there were more 37 point and 14 rebound nights from the two forwards, perhaps the Carmelo Anthony pursuit would have developed differently. The Knicks might have 32 or 33 wins right now, their playoff position would be more secure and they'd even have designs on challenging for a higher seed.

    Alas, nights like Wednesday's aren't the norm and that's why this will be a very sweaty week. And it will be a somewhat bittersweet one because games like this are the reason why this Knicks team has recaptured the hearts of New York. 

    There will be those that rue the day any combination of Chandler, Fields and Gallinari go elsewhere, but they should recall the similar outrage that accompanied Xavier McDaniels' departure in 1992. It opened the door for Anthony Mason's minutes to explode and that door led to some great Knicks days. 

    Big risks can have big payoffs, even when it seems like simply standing pat will get you everywhere you want to go.  

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.