Knicks improve to 5-1 since trade deadline

NEW YORK (AP) -- Until recently, the words "Knicks" and "playoffs" did not belong in the same sentence. Now, it's a possibility that can't be dismissed.

Improving to 5-1 since the trade deadline, the New York Knicks received 19 points from Jamal Crawford and solid all-around contributions from several players to defeat the Washington Wizards 93-83 on Tuesday night.

Crawford also had six assists and six rebounds; Kurt Thomas added 15 points, 11 rebounds and four assists; and Stephon Marbury had 14 points, 10 assists and four rebounds.

New York won at home for the seventh straight time and made up another game on Philadelphia and New Jersey in its quest to get back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Knicks (26-34) are now eight games under .500, the closest they've been to the break-even point since Jan. 31.

"We went through a rough stretch, but that stretch is behind us now and we're playing pretty good basketball. It seems like other teams are going down and we keep going up," Crawford said.

For the second straight game, the Knicks got the job done with a big second-half run. Two days after they had a 21-1 spurt in a victory over Golden State, the Knicks used a 15-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to take control.

The Wizards, led by 27 points from Larry Hughes and 23 from
Gilbert Arenas, were without All-Star Antawn Jamison (right knee tendinitis) for the first time all season. Jamison's streak of 386 consecutive games came to an end.

The Knicks held Washington scoreless for a nearly eight-minute stretch of the final two quarters, using their big run to stretch a 64-63 lead to 79-63. Crawford started the spurt with a 3-pointer, and Thomas added eight points on four outside jumpers.

Washington came back with a 9-0 run to pull within seven, but
Maurice Taylor hit a four-footer and came up with a steal to start an 8-1 run that wrapped up the victory.

"Obviously we didn't play well at times, but we played as hard as we could," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said.

Tim Thomas and Penny Hardaway each added 12 points for the Knicks, whose reserves outscored Washington's 26-3.

New York, which hasn't lost at home since March 9 against Miami, will play its next two games at home against Seattle and Miami before playing six of eight on the road. The Knicks, who moved past the Nets into third place in the Atlantic Division, are 19-12 at home and 7-22 on the road.

"We're not that far out of it," coach Herb Williams said. "Any time you have a chance in this league, you have to believe. Once you stop believing, you might as well go home for the summer."

Besides being without Jamison, Washington was also missing
Anthony Peeler and Etan Thomas. Both sat out with the flu.

New York led 48-40 at halftime, but Washington opened the second half with a 13-0 run capped by a pair of 3-pointers by Arenas for a 53-48 lead. But Wizards center Brendan Haywood picked up his fifth foul with 7:46 left in the third quarter, and the Knicks were ahead 75-63 by the time Haywood returned with 10:12 remaining in the game.

Game notes
Wizards forward Kwame Brown was 0-for-8 from the field. ... Washington dropped to 19-7 against sub-.500 teams. ... When Hughes was called for a foul while defending Marbury on a drive, Washington coach Eddie Jordan turned to referee Monty McCutchen and said: "When we had him with the Nets, you said he was initiating the contact. Now he's with the Knicks and it's a foul." McCutchen laughed at Jordan's line. ... Crawford had a dunk in the first quarter after passing the ball off the backboard to himself. He said it was the fourth time he's done it in his NBA career.


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