SEATTLE (AP)—Jamal Crawford has learned the secret to homecomings: Don’t rush.
“When you come home you have a tendency to try and do too much, because you know a lot of people in the crowd are watching you,” the Seattle native said. “I wanted to pick my spots a lot better.”
He did that by making pull-up jumpers, tough runners in the lane, and 3-pointers with defenders in his face, and scored 19 points in the fourth quarter. Crawford was 8-of-11 from the field and made 11 of 12 free throws in the second half, as New York won the opener of a three-game West Coast road trip.
“He’s had a heck of a run going,” Knicks coach Larry Brown said. “He took it to the basket more, which we are trying to do, but he just played great.”
Crawford was injured colliding with Stephon Marbury against Boston on Sunday and played just 19 minutes, receiving 11 stitches in his chin. In the two games prior, he scored 22 against Detroit and 28 against Chicago.
Tuesday night’s game in front of friends and family was the capper.
“I think I played OK,” Crawford said grinning. “My teammates have trust in me to knock it down. More importantly, we won.”
Crawford’s 3-pointer with Ray Allen’s hand in his face gave him 25 points and the Knicks a 94-86 lead with 2:35 left.
Allen scored seven straight, before Crawford’s scoop shot in the lane gave the Knicks a 98-93 lead with 1:18 remaining. Vladimir Radmanovic made a 3-pointer for Seattle, but after Marbury’s miss, Allen made a bad pass on the Sonics’ next possession.
Marbury made a 23-footer with 26 seconds left. Rashard Lewis and Crawford exchanged free throws, and Radmanovic’s fifth 3-pointer got Seattle to 102-101.
Crawford made another pair of free throws and Allen missed a 3-pointer with 5 seconds left.
“I wasn’t just settling for jump shots. I felt like I could get to the hole or make a play for somebody else,” Crawford said. “I just wanted to keep the pressure on the defense.”
Allen led Seattle with 23 points but continued to struggle with his shooting, going 9-of-28. In his last three games, the All-Star guard is just 27-for-76 (36 percent). The Sonics failed in their second chance this season to climb above the .500 mark.
Lewis added 18 for Seattle, but went cold after making his first four shots. A day after he was charged with drunken driving, resulting from an arrest on Interstate 90 in late September, Lewis missed six straight shots before making a 3-pointer with 3:25 left in the third.
Lewis scored just four in the fourth quarter and snapped his string of six consecutive games with at least 20 points.
Radmanovic had a season-high 23 and Danny Fortson added 11 off the bench for Seattle, but the Knicks’ bench outscored Seattle’s 63-39.
“We didn’t put this team away in the first half and Jamal got hot,” Radmanovic said. “We couldn’t find an answer to stop him.”
Ahead 50-41 at halftime, Seattle built its lead to 58-45 early in the third before Brown went to his reserves and found a spark. With starters Marbury, Malik Rose, Antonio Davis and Jerome James on the bench, the Knicks rallied, taking the lead early in the fourth.
Crawford scored 12 points in the third, as the Knicks went on a 24-12 spurt. Robinson’s layup got New York to 70-69, and the teams traded baskets for a 72-71 Seattle lead after three.
Frye opened the fourth with a jumper, giving the Knicks their first lead at 73-72.
“This was a great thing for the young guys,” Brown said.
Brown nearly didn’t start Marbury, originally planning to start Robinson and Crawford in their hometown. Brown decided to start Marbury after learning of his consecutive games streak, now at 261, fifth longest in the league.
The Knicks played without guard Quentin Richardson, who left the team for a family emergency in Chicago. Madison Square Garden network reported during its telecast of the game that Richardson’s brother was shot in Chicago on Monday.
A Cook County medical examiner’s office spokesman said a Lee Richardson, 31, of Chicago, died of multiple gunshot wounds on Monday.
Richardson was averaging 6.9 points in his first season with the Knicks.
Seattle C Robert Swift played his first minutes of the season when he entered with 2:28 left in the first half. … Newly signed F Qyntel Woods worked out with the Knicks during shootaround, but was inactive for the game.