for this game

Randolph, Crawford spark comeback win by embattled Knicks

Dec 1, 2007 - 4:41 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- The boos started early, and for three quarters the New York Knicks rarely gave their fans a reason to make them disappear before staging their best comeback of the season.

One night after an embarrassing 45-point loss, Jamal Crawford nailed a go-ahead jumper and reserve Fred Jones capped the victory with stellar play on both ends of the floor as the Knicks posted a 91-88 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.

"Everytime you lose a game in New York, you're on death row here," New York coach Isiah Thomas said. "So tonight, they unstrapped the belts, and I get to walk."

Zach Randolph scored 25 points, including a rare 3-pointer at the buzzer in the first half, and Crawford added 25 for the Knicks, who played the final period without guard Stephon Marbury (right shoulder).

New York, which outscored Milwaukee, 26-11, in the final period, has won three of its last four games despite the controversy swirling around the club.

This stretch comes after a chaotic eight-game losing streak that put the team at 2-9 a week ago.

"(We wanted to play) for him (Thomas), for us, for our fans," Crawford said. "We had 20,000 people coming out even though we lost by 45 points and that shows the desire and passion of the city, and we have to same desire."

The Knicks, who used an 18-5 run in the fourth to regain the lead for the first time since the first quarter, needed a big effort on both ends of the court in the waning seconds by Jones, who played crunch-time minutes with Marbury sidelined.

Trailing, 87-85, the Bucks went to Mo Williams, who drilled a 3-pointer to give them an 88-87 lead with 2:34 left. The teams then went scoreless until a wild final sequence.

Crawford banked in a difficult jumper and got fouled with three defenders surrounding him to make it 89-88 with 28.7 seconds left. He missed the ensuing free throw.

"It was actually for myself or Zach," Crawford said. "I was going to come off (a screen). If I had a look, I was going to take it and, if not, I was going to get in the lane and dump it off to Zach. Coach and my teammates have a lot of faith in me in those situations, and I was trying to come through."

"We have to play together," Randolph added. "We are in this together. Right now, we are not winning. The fans want to see wins and I understand that."

Milwaukee then went to star guard Michael Redd, who was hounded by Jones on the perimeter, forcing him into a deep, contested 3-pointer which was off the mark with 7.9 seconds left.

David Lee grabbed the rebound and found a streaking Jones, who threw down an emphatic jam with four-tenths of a second left to provide the final margin. After a timeout, Redd missed a shot from the arc as time expired.

"I am guarding a guy like Michael Redd who had it going the whole game, so you are trying your best to not let him get a touch," said Jones, who played just over 17 1/2 minutes. "Once he got his shot off and we got the rebound, I saw that there was nobody behind me, so I'm yelling to David, 'ball, ball.'

"At that point you don't know whether to dribble the clock out, but I see he is coming to foul me. So I try to duck in, to get to the rim and, luckily, I was able to get to the rim."

After trailing by double digits most of the night, the Knicks came storming back, making it 82-80 on Jones' three-point play with 5:41 remaining.

After forcing a turnover, the Knicks missed a chance to tie as Lee missed the first foul shot and had the second taken away because one his teammates committed a lane violation.

New York tied it twice as Crawford's 3-pointer forged an 85-85 tie with just under four minutes remaining. Jones then forced Redd into missing a long 3-pointer and, after Andrew Bogut blocked a shot, Quentin Richardson intercepted his inbounds pass and drove to the hoop for an 87-85 lead.

That sequence began to turn a hostile crowd and one that was indifferent during the third, in favor of the Knicks, who 24 hours ago were getting embarrassed in front of a national television audience.

"They picked up some energy for sure," Milwaukee coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "Fred Jones gave them a big lift and, obviously, Jamal Crawford made some huge plays. We had a hard time stopping both of those guys in the midst of a momentum turn. It is a tough one to swallow."

Before the comeback, no Knick starter was immune from jeering, which was mostly targeted at Thomas and was the loudest for Eddy Curry and Marbury during pregame introductions.

While there were not many chants of "Fire Isiah," the fans were not shy in displaying their displeasure as Milwaukee took a 37-21 lead on a basket by Bobby Simmons early in the second quarter.

After missing five of their first six shots to start the second, the Knicks rallied by scoring the next 11 points.

That put them within 37-32 on a basket by Randolph with 5:33 remaining, but Redd scored eight of Milwaukee's next 12 points, opening up a 49-36 lead with 2:50 remaining and resulting in a loud chant for Thomas' firing.

Redd scored 27 points on 10-of-23 shooting for the Bucks. Once Jones began guarding him, he had just five points and missed 6-of-8 shots in the final 12 minutes.

The collapse also sent Milwaukee to its third consecutive loss with a home game against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night looming.

"I am speechless," Redd said. "I am more speechless that we lost three in a row, not that we lost to the Knicks. You have to be able to defend, put your foot down and take advantage of the situation, and we didn't do that."

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