Knicks beat Nets to win third straight

Knicks 111, Nets 105
January 17, 2008 8:04:02 AM PST
For the first time since Jason Kidd showed up in New Jersey, the guys on the New York side are having more fun in the Hudson River rivalry.Jamal Crawford scored a season-high 35 points and hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer, leading the Knicks to a 111-105 victory Wednesday night over the New Jersey Nets that gave them the season series for the first time in eight years.

Zach Randolph added 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Knicks, who are 3-0 against their cross-river rivals after the Nets had owned them for years. New York hadn't won the series since going 3-1 in the 1999-00 season, with New Jersey bringing a 24-4 mark, counting the playoffs, into this season since Kidd's arrival in 2001.

"Those guys really put it to us for a long time. As long as I've been here, every time we played them it seemed like we lost," Knicks center Eddy Curry said. "But as of late, last time we played them very well and tonight we played them very well. I think if nothing else we showed them that they're not going to be able to beat up on us every time they play us."

New York has won three in a row for the first time in a year, all without starting point guard Stephon Marbury, who is sidelined by a sore left ankle that he believes will require surgery. Curry finished with 17 points and Nate Robinson had 13.

"Our resiliency, just persevering, we're starting to play with the type of grit that we were playing with last year," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "I thought New Jersey, they were tough tonight, and we got off to a pretty rocky start but our team battled back."

Two of the Knicks' three road wins have come in New Jersey, where they hadn't won twice in the same season since 1994-95.

"This is the NBA and we are all professionals. We never disrespected them," Nets forward Richard Jefferson said. "We never came out and not played hard against them. We've had a couple of games come down to the wire and they're the ones that made plays."

Vince Carter scored 26 points and Kidd had 10 points and a season-high 17 assists for the Nets, who wasted a rare strong start at home and have lost three straight. They'll have to turn things around on a six-game Western Conference trip that begins Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Jefferson scored 22 points and Sean Williams had 16.

The Knicks were leading by 15 with nine minutes remaining before the Nets surged back to grab a 99-98 lead on Jefferson's tip with 2:42 remaining.

The teams exchanged leads from there until Crawford's sixth 3-pointer snapped a 102-all tie with a minute to play. Kidd's 3-point attempt rimmed out, and Randolph followed with two free throws to give New York a five-point lead.

"We were down 10 with nine minutes left and we fight to tie the game up," Kidd said. "Crawford took a tough 3. I tip my hat to him because I didn't think he would shoot it. I was right there and he shot it over me."

Though it hasn't met its full potential as a rivalry because the Knicks have been so awful since Kidd arrived, Tuesday's game was intense, with a seemingly split crowd and even some pushing late in the third quarter.

Quentin Richardson fouled Jefferson, then appeared to try to say something to Carter before he was shoved away by Nets reserve center Jamaal Magloire. Both coaches came onto the floor as the teams came together, with technical fouls called on Richardson and Magloire.

The Nets have been plagued by poor starts, especially at home, and were coming off one of their worst in Monday's loss to Portland. This time, they got their break going early in their highest-scoring opening quarter of the season.

Kidd assisted on the first three baskets of the game, all by Williams, and his 10th assist set up Carter's fast-break layup and gave New Jersey a 29-15 lead with 3:20 left in the opening quarter. The Nets shot 67 percent in the period, building a 33-18 lead.

"They are known for coming out in the first quarter and trying to make a big push. We wanted to be ready with energy, something we haven't done in the last couple of games," Carter said. "Things were looking good for us but then they started hitting shots and the whole momentum changed."

The Nets led by 13 with under 4 minutes left in the half, but Crawford heated up and the Knicks cut it to 55-52 at the break.

Randolph and Curry combined for the Knicks' first 15 points of the second half. The Knicks led 86-78 after three, and extended that lead to 94-79 on Robinson's 3-pointer with 9:06 remaining.