Knicks win again

Knicks 105, Wizards 93
January 16, 2008 5:57:40 AM PST
Two wins in a row is nothing more than a baby step in the NBA. But with the way the Knicks' season has gone, it felt like a giant leap.

Jamal Crawford scored 29 points and New York beat the Washington Wizards 105-93 on Tuesday night to give the Knicks consecutive victories for only the third time this season.

"It really gives me hope and belief there is a good team in here somewhere," coach Isiah Thomas said. "We've just got to keep working at it and keep grinding and keep persevering. As long as we keep fighting and don't give up, there is a good team in here somewhere. We've just got to find it."

Zach Randolph and Nate Robinson added 14 points apiece for the Knicks, who will go for their first three-game winning streak of the season Wednesday at New Jersey. Two nights after an 89-65 victory over Detroit, the Knicks built a 22-point lead in the first half, then turned back every push by Washington, which had its three-game winning streak snapped.

The Knicks (11-26) won their second and third games of the season - probably the only time they'll have a winning record this season - then beat Chicago and Utah on Nov. 24 and 26.

"It's a step in the right direction. We haven't won two in a row since November. So don't want to take it for granted, you want to keep it in perspective and try to get better," said Crawford, who hit six of seven 3-pointers.

"The season's not over. The East is so wide open if you can put together a stretch where you win six or seven in a row, you're right back in the thick of things."

Both victories came without starting point guard Stephon Marbury, who has bone spurs in his left ankle and will also miss Wednesday's game. He is scheduled for an MRI on Thursday that could determine if he needs surgery.

Caron Butler scored 24 points and Antawn Jamison had 21 for the Wizards, who have played most of the season without All-Star Gilbert Arenas and on Tuesday had to go without his replacement, Antonio Daniels, who had a sore right knee. Roger Mason started at point guard and scored 20 points.

The Wizards were coming off Monday's 88-83 victory at Boston, their second win over the league-leading Celtics in three nights, that had moved them a season-high four games over .500. Coach Eddie Jordan stressed it was important his team to build off those accomplishments "and not be satisfied about it."

But the Wizards were flat at the start and had to play from behind all night. New York jumped to 17-5 lead behind Quentin Richardson, who hit his first five shots and scored 10 points in the opening quarter. The lead grew to 18 points later in the period, and the Knicks were up 30-14 after one - Washington's worst opening quarter of the season.

"It's one thing to say you beat the best team in the league back-to-back and all of a sudden you come back, lose to a team that's won what, 11 games before tonight?" Jamison said. "You've still got to lace them up. You've still got to be focused enough and you've still got to bring the energy early in the game. And for us those were the things that pretty much lost the game for us."

The Knicks put six players in double figures, shot 51 percent from the field and had 26 assists. They came into the game last in the league in that category with 17.4 per game.

Robinson's 3-pointer midway through the second quarter gave the Knicks a 41-19 cushion, but the Wizards closed with a late surge to make it 51-41 on DeShawn Stevenson's 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds remaining.

The Wizards got within six early in the third, but the Knicks seemed to regain control when Crawford and Richardson hit consecutive 3-pointers and Eddy Curry scored inside to make it 61-47 with 7:15 left.

"I was disappointed in our bench," Jordan said. "We needed to get something from our bench. And again we don't come off with energy, with concentration, execution. So there's no excuse."

Jamison's three 3-pointers in the period helped Washington cut it to 77-72 heading to the fourth, but the Knicks quickly blew it open again.