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Harrington, Thomas come home as Knicks get road win

Dec 11, 2008 - 5:32 AM EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Al Harrington and Tim Thomas seemed to enjoy pummeling their hometown team.

Harrington scored 26 of his season-high 39 points in the second half and Thomas keyed a decisive third quarter as the New York Knicks rallied for a 121-109 victory over the New Jersey Nets.

Harrington - who hails from Orange and played high school basketball at St. Patrick's in Elizabeth - torched New Jersey after halftime, when he made 7-of-10 shots, 11-of-12 free throws and consistently abused the Nets' defenders.

Paterson native Thomas buried three 3-pointers and scored 11 of his season-high 26 points in the third as the Knicks rallied to snap a six-game road losing streak.

"We were on our home soil so we had to show up big," Harrington said. "I know Tim played a lot of games in here, so he's very comfortable here."

"Any time you're home in New Jersey and get the chance to play in front of a lot of friends and family, it's always special," Thomas said.

Harrington has fit into the Knicks quickly since being acquired in a trade with Golden State, averaging 24.6 points in nine games with New York. He made 11-of-21 shots overall and 15-of-16 from the line and has made 24-of-42 shots in his last two games.

"Coach put me in a lot of pick-and-rolls and it was successful," Harrington said. "It allowed me to get layups and get to the line and create for my teammates. This system relies a lot on your basketball IQ, and we've gone over a lot of game film to find where I can get better."

Wilson Chandler had 24 points and nine rebounds and Chris Duhon added 10 and 10 assists for New York, which bounced back from an inconsistent first half to shoot 51 percent (40-of-79) from the floor.

But the Knicks won the game from the free-throw line, where they made a season-high 32 shots on a season-best 35 attempts.

"One stat that troubled us was 35 free-throw attempts," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "We did not have many answers. Defensively, giving up 121 points in your building is tough to overcome."

It was an impressive offensive display by New York, which used only seven players and lost center David Lee to a back injury in the third quarter.

"Hopefully, this shows our team growing a little bit - being able to fight back," Harrington said.

Devin Harris led the Nets with 32 points and Vince Carter added 18, seven rebounds and six assists. But New Jersey could not keep up its torrid pace after scoring a season-high 63 points on 57 percent shooting (25-of-44) in the first half.

"Defensively, we just have to bring the same effort every night," Harris said. "That's the one thing we hang our hat on and we didn't bring really our best effort tonight."

The Nets finished by shooting a season-high 54 percent (44-of-82) from the floor but could not overcome 17 turnovers and a dreadful 10-of-17 performance from the line, including 1-of-7 in the crucial third quarter.

New Jersey led by as many as 15 in the second quarter, but New York closed the first half with a 14-8 burst.

Harrington nailed a 3-pointer and two free throws during the stretch and Thomas buried a pair of from the arc, nailing one with 26 seconds left to bring the Knicks within 63-57 at the half.

"They have some guys that create some tough matchups for our big guys," Carter said. "Our defensive scheme kind of just went south."

New York picked up where it left off in the third, scoring the first six points of the quarter to forge a 63-63 tie on a pair of free throws by Lee. Harrington gave the Knicks their first lead at 74-73 with two free throws at 6:21 and assisted on a dunk by Thomas that gave them the lead for good two minutes later.

New York buried 11-of-19 shots from the floor and 7-of-8 free throws in the period. New Jersey made 9-of-16 shots but committed seven turnovers and did not help itself from the line.

New York went up by 11 on a layup by Harrington midway through the fourth quarter before New Jersey made one last rally to pull within 108-102 on a jumper by Jarvis Hayes at 5:18. But Chandler answered with a 3-pointer as he was fouled by Sean Williams and made the ensuing free throw to restore the double-digit lead and seal the win.

Harrington missed a chance to match his career high of 40 points when he split a pair of free throws with 45 seconds left. He also had a shot blocked by Carter in the final seconds.

Harris got off to a fast start, making his first six shots and scoring 14 points in the opening 4 1/2 minutes as New Jersey jumped out to a 17-8 lead. He had 20 points at halftime but struggled with foul trouble in the third before trying to rally the Nets in the final period.

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