New York coach Larry Brown has certainly enjoyed the new year.
Brown hopes to guide the Knicks to a seventh straight win as they try to remain perfect in January when they face the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre.
The Knicks entered 2006 in last place in the Atlantic Division with a 7-21 mark. But they have played like a new team in the new year and enjoying their longest winning streak since a seven-game run from Dec. 22, 2000-Jan. 7, 2001.
Brown notched his 1,000th NBA victory in a 1095-94 win Friday over the Atlanta Hawks. He became the fourth coach in league history to reach the milestone, joining Lenny Wilkens, Don Nelson and Pat Riley.
“It’s a great feeling,” Brown said. “When you look at this league, to be in it this long, you feel lucky.”
The Knicks have received outstanding play from sixth man Jamal Crawford during the winning streak. Crawford, who missed two games during the run due to a sprained left foot, is averaging 25.8 points in his last four games.
New York has used the same lineup in seven straight games, starting rookie David Lee and Antonio Davis at forwards, Eddy Curry at center, and Stephon Marbury and rookie Nate Robinson in the backcourt. Brown experimented with a number of different lineups this season before settling on this group.
“I think we are getting better every game,” Knicks rookie forward Channing Frye said. “We have our lapses but we stick with it and get back to what works and what can help us productive.”
Toronto has also played better recently, winning six of its last eight. The Raptors have not played since a 95-86 win Wednesday over the Charlotte Bobcats in which they rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit.
“The fans were booing us and we understood why,” Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. “It’s not important what I said or how I said it. It’s just the fact our guys came out and played better and did what we needed to do to win the game.”
Raptors leading scorer Chris Bosh has averaged 15.6 points and 8.3 rebounds in eight career games against the Knicks.
Toronto won both home matchups with New York last season by a combined 40 points.