CLEVELAND (AP)—Eddy Curry was often New York’s biggest cheerleader during crunch time last season.
Now, he’s the center of everything for the Knicks.
“I wouldn’t even see the fourth quarter, let alone the ball,” Curry said. “But that was last year.”
Curry scored 24 points—12 in the final period—and Quentin Richardson had 27 points as the Knicks continued to play better on the road with a 101-98 victory over Cleveland on Wednesday night, snapping the Cavaliers’ six-game home winning streak.
Curry and Jamal Crawford (11 points) combined for 23 of New York’s 28 points in the fourth as the Knicks, playing their second game in two nights, improved to 5-5 on the road. Maybe they should stay away from Madison Square Garden, where they are just 1-6.
The 6-foot-11, 285-pound Curry was an inside force in the fourth quarter, barreling down the lane for easy baskets on routine pick-and-rolls. Once he got the ball close to the rim, there was little the Cavs could do but foul him.
Curry was 6-of-9 from the free throw line in the final quarter.
“He’s the guy,” Crawford said. “He’s the guy we go through. It’s great to see him take over down the stretch.”
Richardson, who missed Tuesday’s game in Chicago with a strained hamstring, was 5-of-7 on 3-pointers and added nine rebounds. New York made nine 3-pointers — the biggest by Crawford with 1:46 left to put the Knicks up 97-93.
Richardson also did a nice defensive job on LeBron James, who scored 27 points but on just 10-of-22 shooting.
“They were playing pick-and-roll with Curry, just rolling him down the gut,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said. “Nothing we did worked. It wasn’t him necessarily catching in the post, posting up and backing in. It was just them playing pick-and-roll.”
Curry’s dunk and free throw for a three-point play with 46.5 seconds left put the Knicks ahead by three, and New York was able to hang on despite Steve Francis missing two free throws and firing up an airball in the final 36 seconds.
Trailing by three, Cleveland had a last possession to tie it, but Donyell Marshall was short on a 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds remaining. Crawford grabbed the rebound, and when the horn sounded, New York’s guard celebrated by throwing the ball high enough to hit the arena’s giant scoreboard.
“We needed this,” Crawford said. “We needed it bad.”
James, who scored eight in the final period, blew by Richardson for a layup to tie it at 98 with 1:05 remaining. But following a timeout, Crawford drove the lane and dished underneath to Curry, who was fouled by Gooden on a dunk.
Curry missed three free throws earlier in the quarter, but he completed the three-point play to make it 101-98.
James forced up a shot over two defenders on Cleveland’s next trip, but New York was unable to take advantage as Francis missed a pair of free throws. Damon Jones’ turnover gave it back to the Knicks, but Francis again gave Cleveland hope with his miss in the lane.
But on their final trip, the Cavaliers, who settled for too many jumpers, couldn’t get a 3 from Marshall.
“We had wide open shots,” James said. “They just didn’t fall.”
Despite coming in with the Eastern Conference’s second-worst record (5-11), Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said before the game that he is convinced his team is headed in the right direction.
“We’ve just got to stay sane in mind and get on the other side of the storm,” he said.
Any threatening clouds seem to be clearing.
“This is a new team,” Curry said. “Same guys, but we have a new attitude.”
According to a story in the current issue of GQ magazine, James and New England quarterback Tom Brady were “fleeced” during a card game at rap mogul Jay-Z’s 40/40 club in New York. So who lost more? “It wasn’t me,” James said. “I try not to lose.” James said Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has also joined the high-stakes, high-profile table. “We always have fun,” he said. … G Larry Hughes missed his seventh game with a high ankle sprain. He and the Cavaliers remain noncommittal about his return, but Hughes still isn’t able to run comfortably. … Knicks G Nate Robinson, the NBA’s reigning slam dunk champion, was called for traveling in the second quarter when he tried to bounce the ball off the floor and slam it. “I won’t be trying it again unless we’re up by 20,” he said. “But that’s spontaneous Nate Robinson. I can’t control that.”
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