for this game

Crawford, Randolph help Knicks top Raptors

Feb 23, 2008 - 6:17 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- It was a shaky finish, but Jamal Crawford and the New York Knicks managed to avoid another disappointing night.

Crawford scored a season-high 43 points as the Knicks rallied from a 14-point deficit and held on for a 103-99 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.

Zach Randolph collected 26 points and 15 rebounds for New York, which scored 89 points over the final three quarters and won for the third time in its last five games.

"It feels good to win," Crawford said. "Just to win. In front of the home crowd, Friday night at (Madison Square) Garden, what's better than that?"

"It's definitely a confidence-builder playing a good team like Toronto and winning a game," Randolph added. "It's definitely a great thing for us."

Crawford surpassed his previous season high of 35 points and turned in his fifth career 40-point game. He made 15-of-29 shots, including 6-of-16 3-pointers.

"When he's shooting it like the way he was shooting it tonight and things were going for him, you kind of live with the bad shots because he has a way of making them," New York coach Isiah Thomas said.

The Knicks, who led by as many as 10 in the fourth, did not make things easy. After Randolph's basket with 6:49 remaining opened a 92-82 edge, Toronto went on a 12-5 run and got within 97-94 with less than two minutes to go.

After David Lee rebounded a missed layup by Chris Bosh with 1:43 left, Crawford misfired on a 3-point attempt, allowing the Raptors a chance to tie or take the lead. Toronto crept within 97-95 as Carlos Delfino split a pair of free throws with 1:01 remaining.

Looking to finally put away the game, Randolph drove past Bosh for a layup with 40 seconds left, putting New York ahead, 99-95. On Toronto's next possession, Jose Calderon missed a 3-pointer with 28.5 seconds to go, appearing to seal the game.

"We got excellent looks in the fourth quarter and had multiple chances to either tie the game or take the lead," Bosh said. "Shots that usually go in, didn't."

Randolph missed two free throws with 15.6 seconds left and Bosh converted a layup with two ticks remaining to make it a two-point game. Nate Robinson had a chance to finally seal matters and did so at the line with 1.8 seconds to go.

The win did not seem possible after an ugly start that had New York headed for another double-digit loss just two nights after a 40-point defeat in Philadelphia. The Knicks scored a season-worst 12 points in the opening quarter and at one point missed 10 consecutive shots.

"It was very important to come and show the pride we're accustomed to showing," Crawford said. "Even when we lose, we usually put up a good fight. That is definitely not who we've been."

That quickly changed as Crawford scored 21 points in the second period. He scored eight straight points on two occasions to make the game competitive and also hit a 3-pointer with 50.4 seconds left before Randolph sank a buzzer-beating shot from midcourt to draw New York within 53-52 at halftime.

"I didn't want to let the game get away from us," Crawford said. "In Philadelphia, it got away from us and we weren't able to recover."

"We've been playing pretty good and I thought tonight, because of the speed of the game in the first quarter, we got off to a slow start," Thomas said. "But then Jamal caught on fire. He and Zach offensively, they were able to carry us."

While the Knicks did not want to let another one get away, the Raptors felt they did not do enough to increase their advantage.

"I think when we had a team down like that and the momentum shifts, we have to play a little harder, run the court harder," Bosh said. "I think we can do a much better job at that."

"Earlier in the game, we had the chance to capitalize," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell added. "We had some good looks around the basket but didn't convert."

Crawford scored 10 more points in the third. One of his baskets was a running jumper in the lane with two-tenths of a second remaining that put New York ahead, 81-75, through three quarters.

Bosh, who scored 40 points both Wednesday against Orlando and January 11 in New York, led Toronto with 23 points. Bosh took just three shots in the fourth quarter and made five of Toronto's 16 turnovers.

Anthony Parker and Delfino each added 18 points for the Raptors, whose previous six wins had been by an average of 26.7 points.