Knicks rally from 10 down to 10 up in third, beat Clippers

NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks spent the first half looking like the team they have been for too long: inconsistent on offense and ineffective on defense.

Then suddenly, they turned into the team they think they can become.

Stephon Marbury scored 12 of his 15 points in an early second-half run that overwhelmed the Clippers and turned the game around, sending New York to a 102-90 victory over Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

Jamal Crawford and Eddy Curry each scored 23 points to lead New York, which shot poorly and defended worse in the first two quarters before controlling the second half of its second consecutive victory.

New York (22-28) improved to 13-13 at home and needs to win only once on a three-game road trip before All-Star weekend to match its victory total from last season's 23-59 failure under Larry Brown.

"You hate to look at it like that, but that's crazy," Crawford said. "I think we'll definitely have that win total by the break. We're a better team."

New York never led in the first half and trailed by as much as 12. But the Knicks stormed out of halftime with a 24-4 spurt, turning a 10-point deficit into a 10-point lead in a span of 9 1/2 minutes and handing the Clippers their second straight loss.

Elton Brand had 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Clippers, who lost for the third time in 10 games and fell to 1-2 on their seven-game Eastern trip. Reserve Tim Thomas also had 22 points.

"I thought that unfortunately the way we started the third quarter was the difference in the game," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Came out and went 0-for-our-first-seven possessions and then made some defensive mistakes the other way, gave them some momentum."

Down 53-43 at halftime, New York scored the first 10 points of the second half, tying it after the second of Marbury's two consecutive layups with 8:24 remaining.

Marbury, who had only three points and three turnovers in the first half, attacked the basket much more in the third quarter. Four of his five field goals in the run were drives, including his three-point play with 2:30 remaining in the quarter that capped it and gave New York a 67-57 advantage.

"It was needed," Marbury said. "At that point we didn't have anything going so I just took it upon myself to start being more aggressive than I was in the first half."

The Clippers started 2-for-15 with three turnovers after shooting 54 percent in the first half. They were only 4-for-19 (21 percent) in the third quarter, getting outscored 27-11 as New York took a 70-64 lead into the fourth.

"When you're on the road you can't do that, because we all know teams will get back in it, start making some shots and getting their team back in it," Thomas said. "They just turned it up and started making shots. They kept cutting into the lead and once they got the lead it was catch-up ball for us from there on out."

Los Angeles briefly got within three in the fourth, but New York regained control behind Crawford, who scored 10 points in the period. David Lee added 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Quentin Richardson scored 15 points for the Knicks.

The Knicks rebounded from a horrendous start to tie the game at 17 with 2:56 remaining in the first quarter. But Los Angeles outscored New York 11-2 the remainder of the period, with two dunks from Thomas, to lead 28-19.

Thomas hit a 3-pointer to open the second quarter and push the lead to 12. The lead never got below six in the period, and the Clippers took a 53-43 advantage into halftime. New York shot 38 percent in the half.

"They had a good first half shooting the basketball," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "I felt that we were a little bit out of rhythm, but not that far away. I wanted to make sure we kept our confidence and we kept our discipline in what we were doing."

Game notes
With the trade deadline a little more than two weeks away, Isiah Thomas said he liked the players he had, then added a somewhat curious assessment when he said he thought the Knicks were "pretty healthy as a franchise." New York is six games below .500 and hasn't won a playoff game since Thomas' arrival as team president a little more than three years ago. ... New York gave C Jerome James his second straight start playing forward alongside Curry. But the Knicks started 0-of-6 with three turnovers in falling behind 10-1. ... The Clippers had won the last four meetings.

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