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Crawford, Knicks rout Heat without injured O'Neal

Nov 18, 2006 - 3:13 AM MIAMI (Ticker) -- With Shaquille O'Neal sidelined, Jamal Crawford and the New York Knicks performed a little surgery on the Miami Heat.

Crawford scored 19 points and Steve Francis added 14 as the Knicks routed the Heat, 100-76, to snap a seven-game losing streak against the defending champions.

Quentin Richardson collected nine points, 11 rebounds and six assists for New York, which shot 52 percent (40-of-77) from the field and held a 46-20 advantage in bench points.

"It was great. The best part about it was the way we played together, played hard and played defense," Richardson said. "We had a lot of fun. (A game like this) kind of opens your eyes and (makes you) think about what can happen when we play hard and play together like that."

"I like the total commitment the team has right now," New York coach Isiah Thomas said. "They are committed to defending, they are committed to playing together and they are committed to sharing the basketball."

The 34-year-old O'Neal will need surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee and is expected to miss four to six weeks. The date for the surgery has yet to be determined.

"Obviously, we're going to have to gather the troops and do something different," Miami coach Pat Riley said.

With the future Hall of Famer absent, the Knicks took advantage, outrebounding the Heat, 46-40. New York took its biggest lead, 96-67, with 3:39 remaining on a jumper by Jerome James. In his season debut, James had nine points in 14 minutes.

"It changes them dramatically," Crawford said of O'Neal's injury. "We know they're world champions, they're going through some tough times right now, but you can't count them out. They're going to continue to play hard to the end. (Thomas) just didn't want us to let up, stay professional and try to provide energy."

Crawford made 8-of-13 from the floor, including three shots from the arc, and Francis was 5-of-9. However, New York used five double-figure scorers to pick up the victory.

"This has been the most balanced victory so far," Crawford said. "It feels good to come in and spread the ball (around) and make plays."

New York outscored Miami, 34-14, in a pivotal third quarter - nailing its final eight shots of the period. The quarter was a microcosm of the Heat's season.

"We don't sustain anything. I can't explain this at all," Riley said. "In the 11 years I've been here, this start at home especially and getting beat so badly. We're a good team.

"I just can't explain it right now. I know what's going on; we're not defending, we're not playing hard enough, we surely are not scoring, and offensively we're so inefficient it's putting pressure on the defense."

Dwyane Wade scored 20 points for Miami, which shot a season-low 36 percent (29-of-80) and was just 2-of-14 on 3-pointers.

Jason Williams scored eight points in 18 minutes in his first action of the season after recovering from a knee injury.

"My knee felt alright, but got a little tight in the second half," Williams said. "We'll see how it reacts in the morning. I just don't feel like me. I can't be in game shape after playing just one game, 18 minutes."

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