CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)—The oldest player on the NBA’s newest team showed he still has something left.
Steve Smith scored 20 points and hit two clutch shots in the final three minutes as the Charlotte Bobcats overcame a 41-point performance from Jamal Crawford and defeated the New York Knicks 107-101 Saturday night.
“What we’ve done is play him three or four games and then sit him for a game or two so he gets his legs back,” Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff of the 35-year-old Smith. “He had his legs tonight, and with Steve, it’s all about savvy.
Smith hit a contested 3-pointer from the right wing with 2:29 left to break a tie, then drained a fallaway jumper with 1:52 left to put the Bobcats ahead 101-97.
“As a veteran, I looked up and saw we were tied and thought if I can get a 3 it would put a dagger in them,” Smith said. “I was thinking I should try the 3 since we were tied. If you miss it, it’s still tied up, but if you make it, you get that cushion.”
Crawford shot 17-of-25 but managed just four points in the final quarter and missed his last five shots. He also had a turnover with 44 seconds left and the Knicks trailing by four.
“To be perfectly honest, my performance doesn’t matter because we lost,” Crawford said. “We didn’t get the stops that we needed at the end in order to win. It stings more to lose the close games.”
Nazr Mohammed added 15 points and 17 rebounds for New York, which committed 20 turnovers in losing its second straight game and appeared weary at the end playing its fourth game in five nights. Charlotte had been off since Tuesday.
Crawford scored 27 points in the first half, including three 3-pointers, as the Bobcats struggled to find someone who could guard him. Gerald Wallace normally would have drawn the assignment, but he was in street clothes after suffering a concussion in practice Thursday.
“What an amazing performance by Crawford,” Bickerstaff said. “We were up in him, defending him, and he was hitting tough shots.”
“Eddie handled himself as a professional since he joined our organization and we know we will see him on an NBA roster very soon,” coach Bernie Bickerstaff said in a news release announcing the move. “We had a situation here with a lot of players at one position and this was a difficult decision.”
Charlotte erased an eight-point second-quarter deficit, taking a 78-77 lead on Smith’s 3-pointer with 1:01 left in the third.
Crawford responded with his on 3 over Keith Bogans on the next possession, then dunked off a steal to give New York a 81-78 lead after three quarters.
The game went back-and-forth in the final period, with five lead changes and four ties.
“Whenever you go into someone’s arena and you know how tough they play, you are automatically in for a challenge,” Knicks guard Stephon Marbury said of the expansion Bobcats. “Tonight we simply didn’t meet that challenge.”
Wallace was scheduled to travel with the team to Los Angeles late Saturday, although he is expected to miss the first two games of the West Coast trip. … Allan Houston traveled with the Knicks, but did not play. He’s hopeful to return from a knee injury at some point during their four-game road trip.