76ers
Knicks
81 - 89 Final
  for this game

Randolph, Knicks hold off Sixers

Jan 26, 2008 - 4:16 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- The New York Knicks are headed out West, but this time things appear to be normal.

Zach Randolph collected 16 points and 15 rebounds as the Knicks clamped down defensively in the final five minutes to pull out an 89-81 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

Jamal Crawford added 18 points, including a crucial jumper with 57 ticks left, for the Knicks, who held the 76ers to just one point during crunch time en route to the win.

"We're better prepared," Crawford said. "We're playing better as a team. We can take people's runs and not fold. I think that's the biggest thing on you have to do on the road."

Crawford and Randolph were two of five Knicks to finish in double figures in scoring as David Lee finished with 14 points, Nate Robinson chipped in 13 and Eddy Curry contributed 11.

"We're playing a lot better basketball," Randolph said. "We're playing more together and getting good ball movement. So, things are better than they were before."

"Sometimes teams find their stride," Lee said. "I think we have done that. It's hard to explain why it happens, but our team is a lot more balanced scoring-wise than it was. Our team is playing better team defense. I think we're sharing the ball a lot better on offense, and there's a resiliency that probably wasn't there a month ago."

New York, which has won five of its last seven games, will next head West for a five-game trip with stops in Golden State, Los Angeles, Utah, Portland and Seattle.

The Knicks will do so without having to deal with any issues between enigmatic guard Stephon Marbury and coach Isiah Thomas.

The last time they headed for a Western swing was in the second week of the season when Thomas benched Marbury for a game in Phoenix. Marbury flew back to New York in a huff before returning the next night.

But the incident helped contribute to an ugly first half which saw the Knicks suffer 18 double-digit losses.

Marbury has not played in the last six games after electing to undergo surgery for bone chips in his sore left ankle. Without him, the Knicks have turned in their best stretch of the season, which continued on Friday.

"I just think right now we a playing with a lot more trust," Thomas said. "There is a lot more trust and understanding. We have a good shot distribution, everyone feels a part of the game. Everyone gets to touch the basketball. You feel it (and), maybe on the other end defensively, you play a little bit better."

New York rarely trailed but never put Philadelphia away until late in the fourth. The 76ers were within 82-80 following Iguodala's jumper with just under five minutes remaining but were unable to tie the game on their next possession.

Andre Iguodala had a chance to tie it but missed both free throws with 3:34 remaining. Curry grabbed the rebound and, on the Knicks' next possession, Crawford's three-point play extended the lead to 85-80 with 3:11 left.

"Certainly, we would like to make those foul shots," Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks said. "But I thought we played a nice game. But I thought New York made some nice offensive plays down the stretch of the game."

New York then used its defensive intensity and another big shot by Crawford, who nailed a clutch straightaway jumper with the shot clock running down to make it 87-81 with 57 seconds left to effectively ice the game.

Iguodala scored 24 points for the Sixers, who have lost three straight and did not have a field goal in the final 4:59.

Philadelphia lost for the 11th time in 13 games as it shot 6-of-15 in the fourth and 42 percent (33-of-78) for the game.

"We had a couple of turnovers late in the game but, for the most part, we just couldn't seem to make a good play to go up or tie the game," Sixers guard Willie Green said.

"They did a good job of just keeping us at arm's length. When they made their runs, we could come back and close it, get down a couple of points. But we just didn't have enough."

Before falling short in the fourth, Philadelphia briefly led in the third. After cutting an 11-point deficit to 50-46 at halftime, the Sixers took a one-point advantage on an alley-oop dunk by Samuel Dalembert with 3:52 left. But they were outscored 10-3 the rest of the period.








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