New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks: Lineup change, big game from Melo can't stop crushing loss (Highlights)
Jan 16, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas (91) shoots the ball past Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks lost a heartbreaker to the Atlanta Hawks despite a shift in the starting lineup and 30 points from Carmelo Anthony.

  • Atlanta Hawks 108 (24-17) 
  • New York Knicks 107 (18-24)
  • NBA, Final, Box Score
  • Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York

It looked like the New York Knicks had this one in the bag. That’s becoming kind of a recurring theme in the fourth quarter now, isn’t it. It’s clear that we can’t trust this team to close out games. Another crushing game-winner following a blown five-point lead with three and a half minutes left taught us that

Jeff Hornacek had to do something. The Knicks entered Monday night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks having lost four of their last five and 10 of their last 12.

The head coach responded with a stunning change to the starting lineup. He removed veteran shooting guard Courtney Lee and replaced him with fan favorite Ron Baker. With Kristaps Porzingis (sore left Achilles) and Lance Thomas (fractured orbital bone) both on the mend, Mindaugas Kuzminskas got the start at small forward.

Baker and Kuzminskas flourished in their first NBA career starts. The undrafted free agent point guard was 4-7 from three-point range and finished with three assists in 22 minutes. Kuz led the team in minutes with 38 and scored 16 points on 6-10 from the field and five rebounds.

In Lee’s first game coming off the bench this season, things didn’t go as smoothly. He logged just 21 minutes and notched seven points (3-7 FG, 1-4 3P).

Anthony made 10-16 shots including 2-4 threes and 8-11 free throws in one of his most efficient nights of the season. He finished with 28 points to go along with 18 from Derrick Rose, but it still wasn’t enough.

The Knicks weaknesses reared their ugly head again on the defensive end. The Hawks average just 8.9 three-point makes per game and shoot 34.5 percent from outside this season, but on Monday afternoon they made 12 and shot 37.5 percent.

Once again the Knicks were killed by the opposing backcourt. Dennis Schroder made 13-16 shots including the game-winning triple. Unsurprisingly he was wide open.

Next up: The schedule doesn’t get any easier. The Knicks will travel to Boston for a road game against the Celtics on Wednesday, Jan. 18, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

I'm ESNY's Executive Editor for I cover the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Email: Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.