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Crawford leads 'new-look' lineup down the stretch

NEW YORK (AP) -- Knicks coach Herb Williams kept Stephon Marbury
on the bench for the entire fourth quarter, a strategy so
successful that Williams said he might use it "often" after the
All-Star break.

Jamal Crawford scored 23 points to lead six Knicks in double
figures, and New York pulled away in the fourth quarter for a
108-90 victory over Milwaukee on Wednesday night.

Marbury was on the bench as the Knicks began the final period
with an 80-76 lead, and he stayed there for the rest of the game as
Crawford directed the offense and Michael Sweetney and Jerome
Williams controlled the inside.

"Any time you have a group of guys that are playing well, you
just have to go with them," Williams said. "That can happen any
time and often, because if guys are playing well -- regardless of
who's on the floor -- you leave that group alone and let them
play."

It was a different mix for the Knicks as they won for just the
fifth time in their past 24 games, their marquee star in the
unfamiliar position of playing cheerleader down the stretch.

"I think he was smiling," Williams said. "I saw a couple
times he jumped up and was cheering. He was just happy to get a
win.

Marbury finished with 14 points and nine assists in 31 minutes
as the Knicks had their first double-digit victory margin since
Dec. 29 against Minnesota.

The key stretch came early in the fourth quarter as the Bucks
missed five shots and committed three turnovers to allow the Knicks
to turn an 80-76 lead into an 87-76 bulge.

Milwaukee pulled to 89-81 on Mike James' 3-pointer, but that was
as close as the Bucks would come against a Knicks lineup that
included Crawford and Penny Hardaway at the guard positions and
Jerome Williams, Sweetney and Kurt Thomas along the front line.

Marbury said he could not remember the last time he sat out an
entire fourth quarter.

"I was happy to be able to sit over there because one, we were
winning, and two, to get some rest," Marbury said. "I'm going to
ride with my teammates. I don't want to cause (any) controversy."

Toni Kukoc had 20 points and Desmond Mason 18 for Milwaukee,
which was without leading scorer Michael Redd (sprained index
finger) for the third straight game.

In a matchup of last-place teams, neither held a double-digit
lead until Crawford made a 3-pointer with 8:17 left in the fourth
quarter to put New York ahead 87-76. Sweetney scored four of the
Knicks' next six points, and Williams then scored six straight to
put the Knicks ahead 100-87 with 3:48 left.

Thomas added 16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, Sweetney
scored 18 -- one shy of his career high -- and Hardaway had 14. The
Knicks shot 56 percent from the field.

"They shot the ball well, but most of it was what we didn't
do," Mason said. "We didn't finish the game out."

Game notes
Marbury had one of the niftiest passes of his career when
he spun 360 degrees and hit Tim Thomas under the basket with a
lookaway pass early in the third quarter. ... Redd missed his third
straight game. Before that, he had played in 212 consecutive games.
... Knicks C Bruno Sundov was not with the team for personal
reasons. ... Many Knicks fans found another reason to boo Tim
Thomas. During a timeout, a video was played in which Thomas was
asked if he preferred the Yankees or Mets. He answered "Mets,"
and a majority of the crowd vented its disapproval.