for this game

Crawford, Knicks win second straight

Jan 16, 2008 - 4:42 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- In the last two games, the New York Knicks have realized the importance of ball movement, and it has led to their first winning streak in nearly two months.

Jamal Crawford led six players in double figures with 29 points as the Knicks raced out to a big lead in the first half en route to a 105-93 victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Zach Randolph collected 14 points and 11 rebounds and reserve Nate Robinson had 14 and eight assists for New York, which won consecutive games for the third time this season and first time since home victories over Chicago and Utah, November 24-26.

Quentin Richardson chipped in 13 points and seven assists and Eddy Curry and Fred Jones scored 10 apiece for New York, which shot 51 percent (42-of-82), including 11-of-18 from the arc.

In between winning streaks, the Knicks had dropped 17 of 23 games with 11 defeats coming by double digits.

In their last two games, an 89-65 win over Detroit and Tuesday's victory, New York has totaled 47 assists, including 26 against Washington - two shy of its season best set in last Tuesday's win at Chicago.

"Ball movement is huge," Knicks forward David Lee said. "It is beautiful basketball on offense. It is something we want to improve on."

New York came into the contest averaging 17.4 assists - the worst in the league - but it figured it out early and often on Tuesday.

The Knicks had seven assists and took a 16-point lead after one and, despite allowing Washington to creep within four early in the fourth quarter, they were able to win.

"Anytime you have 26 assists and nine turnovers, you are starting to believe in your teammates," New York coach Isiah Thomas said. "I thought we've had honest play with honest effort and I think our players are now starting to trust each other and believe in their teammates."

"Sometimes it takes a while to get chemistry," Crawford added. "But we don't care about who's scoring and who's doing what. Anytime when you have five or six guys in double figures, that's great balance and that's hard for the opposition to play against."

The Knicks improved to 11-26 and have won three of their last five following a seven-game losing streak. They have had four games with at least 20 assists just once in their previous 10 contests.

"That's what coaching is all about, trying to blend your personalities and convince your team if they play together they can win," Thomas said. "Most of them have made it and got to where they are by being individuals. We want to play for the New York Knicks and not the name on the back of the shirt."

"I wouldn't say necessarily selfish," Crawford added. "But a lot of our guys on our team have been scorers their whole careers, so it's an adjustment for everybody. But once we figure it out, it doesn't matter who gets the credit."

While the ball movement was the most positive aspect of the win, it also was the second time in as many games that the Knicks were able to capitalize on a team playing four games in five nights.

But this one was not as easy as Sunday's 89-65 win over Detroit, which had played overtime in Charlotte on Saturday night.

Neither side was going to use that as an excuse, although it was evident that the Wizards were sluggish from the outset before nearly catching up.

"We played Detroit," Robinson said. "We understand Detroit had a tough road trip, but everybody goes through them. Everybody tries their best to take our wins away from us that we get, but it don't matter, whoever we play we're going to give it our all."

"That is no excuse for us (four games in five nights)," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "I was very disappointed. I told our guys after the game there is no excuse. We don't come out with energy and concentration. There is no excuse."

The Knicks never trailed after Crawford hit a 3-pointer just 33 seconds into the contest. They led by 16 after one and were up 41-19 when Robinson hit a shot from the arc with just over six minutes remaining in the first half.

The Wizards came back and closed out the half with a 12-4 spurt, which brought them within 51-41 on DeShawn Stevenson's 3-pointer with four-tenths of a second remaining before halftime.

Washington also closed to within 53-47 when Caron Butler stole Crawford's pass and coasted in for a dunk with 9:17 remaining in the third. It then withstood an 8-0 run by the Knicks and were within 77-72 through three.

New York appeared to have the victory in hand as it opened a 14-point edge with 7:22 remaining on Renaldo Balkman's three-point play. Nearly three minutes later, Washington was within 96-87 on a basket by Roger Mason Jr., but Crawford and Robinson finished off the win with jumpers.

The Wizards failed to win their fourth in a row and lost for just the second time in their last seven games. This loss came after two hard-fought wins over Boston and a four-point overtime triumph in Atlanta five nights ago.

"It is four games in five nights," Butler said. "We beat Boston twice and we beat Atlanta in overtime. This was a game where they got to a lot of loose balls and outhustled us."

One night after scoring 21 points - including many crucial baskets - in Monday's victory, Butler collected 24, eight rebounds and six assists and Antawn Jamison scored 13 of his 21 in the third for Washington, which shot 39.5 percent (32-of-81).

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