Amare Stoudemire has 16 points and Carmelo Anthony 12 to lead New York to a 62-56 lead through three quarters at Philips Arena.
Josh Smith netted 13 points in his return and Kirk Hinrich and Joe Johnson have posted 10 each for Atlanta, which is shooting just 40-percent (23-for-57) from the field.
This one was back-and-forth until the final minute of the quarter.
Atlanta was soaring as Hinrich stole the ball and lead an outlet pass to Smith, who fed Johnson on the break. Johnson lobbed a perfect alley-oop pass to Smith, who finished with the two-handed slam to give Atlanta a 53-52 lead with 3:37 left in the frame.
But Atlanta went cold thereafter, And Anthony Carter nailed a 3-pointer on New York's last possession for the final points of the quarter.
Carter has 10 points and Landry Fields posted 11 for New York, which is shooting 42-percent (26-for-42) from the field.