NEW YORK (AP)—Jamal Crawford scored 15 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, including the tiebreaking jumper with 2.2 seconds left, and the New York Knicks rallied to beat the Detroit Pistons 105-103 Friday night.
Eddy Curry added 16 points and 11 rebounds and Steve Francis scored 15 points for the Knicks, who were decked out in green for the first time ever to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. They looked nothing like the team that has one of the NBA’s worst records in Larry Brown’s first season as coach after two seasons with the Pistons.
Chauncey Billups scored 24 points for the Pistons, who lost All-Stars Rasheed Wallace and Richard Hamilton to ejections in the third quarter and their magic number to clinch the Central Division title remained at two.
Before the game, Brown compared the matchup to a No. 1 seed against a 16, and it sure looked that way when the Pistons built a 16-point lead in the first half.
But New York quickly erased that deficit in the third quarter, then got huge plays down the stretch from Crawford to beat Detroit for the first time in three meetings this season.
Crawford made two straight jumpers to give New York a 96-92 lead, and later hit two free throws to keep it a three-point lead with 1:34 to go. Billups brought the Pistons back and gave them a 101-99 lead with a basket, but Crawford answered with a drive into the lane for a basket while being fouled by Ben Wallace. His free throw gave the Knicks a 102-101 lead.
After Billups missed a jumper, Curry made one free throw for New York. Tayshaun Prince tied it with two free throws, but Crawford came down and made a jumper from the left side.
The Pistons had a chance to tie after Antonio McDyess was fouled by Malik Rose on a desperation shot with 0.7 seconds left. But he missed the first free throw, and Detroit couldn’t knock in his intentional miss on the second attempt.
The Knicks shot 65 percent in the first quarter and trailed by just three points. But Detroit outscored New York 22-9 to open the second, building a 51-35 lead on McDyess’ basket with 5 1/2 minutes left in the half.
With McDyess and Rasheed Wallace leading a clinic, the Pistons made 22 of their first 33 shots. McDyess was 7-of-9 in the first half, helping Detroit to a 56-49 advantage.
The Knicks rallied quickly during a wild third quarter that included two ejections and five technical fouls. New York scored the first eight points of the half, getting help when Wallace was tossed after picking up two technicals for arguing, and took a 57-56 lead on Curry’s alley-oop dunk.
The lead grew to 69-63 after Jalen Rose made a free throw following Hamilton’s ejection for reacting harshly to an offensive foul call. He fired the ball to the opposite end of the court, hitting the top of the shot clock, and was immediately thrown out.
The Pistons fought back to tie it at 73 heading into the fourth quarter. Brown and Rose were also called for technical fouls during the third.
Brown coached after missing the morning shootaround because of a stomach virus. … Saunders is four wins away from passing Brown for the best record by a Detroit first-year coach. Brown led the Pistons to a 54-28 mark in 2003-04. … Billups and Hamilton ran over to the Knicks bench before tipoff for handshakes and hugs with Brown. … Knicks G Quentin Richardson missed his second straight game with a sprained left thumb.