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Curry scores 27 as Knicks top Lakers minus Bryant

Jan 31, 2007 - 4:36 AM NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant's one-game suspension gave the New York Knicks a tremendous opportunity.

Eddy Curry scored 27 points, Stephon Marbury added 22 and Jamal Crawford 17 for the Knicks, who won for just the third time in eight games with a 99-94 triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers.

The reigning scoring champ, Bryant was forced to sit out after throwing an elbow into Manu Ginobili's face in Sunday's overtime loss against the San Antonio Spurs. The All-Star guard is the league's No. 4 scorer (28.4).

"I don't think about (Kobe not playing)," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "We think about not making plays down the stretch. We didn't take care of the ball the right way and that's what hurt us. We had opportunities to stop them but we couldn't get the ball back."

"We've been on that side of the fence a lot and teams have come in and jumped on us," Curry said. "They played tough, though. They played tough the whole game. They made some big shots at the end (and) made it a tough game for us. But at the end, I thought we played a pretty good game."

After Crawford hit a short running jumper to give New York a 94-86 lead with 2:15 to play, Lamar Odom drilled a 3-pointer for the Lakers with 2:01 left before Curry's basket with 1:36 remaining made it a 96-89 advantage.

"You can't take anybody for granted," Crawford said. "It's too hard to win games in this league. Teams are up sometimes by 20 points and lose. I think you just have to finish it like you started."

Maurice Evans nailed a short jumper and Vladimir Radmanovic made a basket from the arc to bring the Lakers within 96-94 with 45 seconds to go before Curry hit two free throws 10 seconds later.

Evans and Brian Cook failed to hit 3-pointers down the stretch and Channing Frye made 1-of-2 foul shots for the Knicks with 11 seconds to go. Odom misfired from the arc with seven seconds left and Curry grabbed the final rebound to seal the win.

"We were conscious of them as far as shooting the three," Marbury said. "We know they like to shoot the three. They average about 18 3-point shots a game, so we definitely wanted to defend the three. They made some big shots at the end but we were able to maintain (the lead)."

New York led, 85-79, after Marbury buried a 3-pointer with 6:33 to play. Jordan Farmar followed with a basket from the arc and Odom made a pair of free throws to bring the Lakers within one with 4:43 remaining.

"Going against (those) guys tonight was definitely something that we knew that we had to maintain our discipline as far as executing and playing really good defense," Marbury said. "But I think as far as our team, we maintained (the lead). We kept our composure through the whole game and we never panicked."

Jared Jeffries responded with a three-point play with 4:16 to play and Crawford hit two baskets sandwiched around Odom's layup as the Knicks took a 92-86 lead with 3:00 remaining.

Jeffries scored 14 points and Frye had 11 for the Knicks, who had a 48-33 rebounding advantage to end a three-game slide against the Lakers.

"You're never going to blow them out," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "They're a team with a great coach who understands how to manipulate a game and keep his team close. They got good shooters, people who can knock down shots and very rarely do you just have blowouts in this league."

Odom scored 25 points, Radmanovic added 18 and Smush Parker 14 for Los Angeles, which lost its third straight game in the opener of an eight-game road trip.

"We have to come out and play defense," Radmanovic said. "We have to close the game out. We put them in a good situation. We have to focus."

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