Knicks 116, Heat 96
Four nights after the Knicks allowed 27 consecutive points in an embarrassing loss to a Miami team that was without Dwyane Wade and O’Neal, the Heat (19-24) were the helpless ones.
“We have to take one game at a time and take care of business, and we haven’t been doing that,” O’Neal said. “We just have to step up and play. Everyone has to do their job and everybody has to want to be here and everybody has to want to play. I’m getting sick and tired of this. I’ve never been five games under .500 in my career. It’s embarrassing.”
Crawford missed his first four shots, then didn’t misfire again until 2:16 remained in the third quarter. The Knicks had a 20-point lead by then on their way to snapping a two-game skid.
Crawford finished 20-of-30 from the field and 8-for-10 from 3-point range, helping the Knicks shoot 53.6 percent. He left to a standing ovation with 6:51 remaining, shortly after his final basket allowed him to surpass the 50-point performance he had for Chicago against Toronto on April 11, 2004.
“The way how Jamal played tonight was incredible,” Knicks guard Stephon Marbury said. “That was the best performance I’ve ever seen inside the Garden other than Michael Jordan.”
No player had made 16 consecutive attempts in a game in the last 10 years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“It felt great to get the win, more importantly,” Crawford said. “They embarrassed us pretty good when we were down there. It looked good, like everything was almost going to go in.”
Wade scored 37 points for Miami, which lost for the fourth time in five games. O’Neal scored 11 in 15 minutes.
O’Neal, in his second game back after missing 35 in a row because of knee surgery, rejoined the starting lineup—Alonzo Mourning was inactive because of flulike symptoms. Starting point guard Jason Williams was limited to 21 minutes off the bench because of a sore left foot.
O’Neal said perhaps it was time for him to start being harder on his teammates. Wade won’t go that route, but sounded just as frustrated.
“I’m not a motivator. I’ve never been. Anybody looking for me to come in and make a speech, it’s not going to happen,” Wade said. “I just try to go out there and play and hopefully my play speaks for itself.
“Guys have to look at themselves in the mirror more than anything and come out and try to put their best foot forward. But I’m not a motivator, and that’s not my job. My job is to go out there every night and prove and show my teammates what I’m going to bring to them. And that’s why I try to do.”
Marbury returned from a sore knee and had a season-high 13 assists for the Knicks, but starting center Eddy Curry was sidelined after leaving Wednesday’s loss to Phoenix with a strained left calf.
Knicks coach Isiah Thomas kept Crawford in the starting lineup and moved Quentin Richardson to small forward, sending Jared Jeffries to the bench. Jeffries has been struggling, and Thomas has repeatedly been asked why he was keeping him in the lineup instead of David Lee.
“I didn’t want us to fall behind 10, 12 and lose confidence without Curry,” Thomas said. “I wanted to make sure I had some more offensive punch on the floor.”
Crawford sparked the late first-half run that helped New York seize control, then never let Miami get close in third quarter by scoring 23 points, one shy of the Knicks’ record. He hit his first eight 3-point attempts, finishing one shy of tying another New York record.
Allan Houston had the last 50-point game by a Knicks player on March 16, 2003, against Milwaukee. The club record for consecutive field goals made is 19 by Johnny Newman, though not all in one game.
New York got off to a much better start than it did Monday in Miami, when it trailed 40-12 after one quarter in a 101-83 loss. The Heat were up 44-42 after Antoine Walker’s 3-pointer with 6:09 remaining in the second quarter, but that was their last field goal of the half.
Crawford scored five quick points to give the Knicks the lead and spark a 23-5 run that he capped with a four-point play with 0.2 seconds remaining to send New York to the locker room with a 65-49 advantage.
Wade and the Knicks’ Nate Robinson will defend their titles on All-Star Saturday night. Robinson won the slam dunk contest last year and was invited back despite his 10-game suspension for his role in last month’s brawl with the Denver Nuggets at Madison Square Garden. Wade was the champion in the Skills Challenge. … The Heat had won five in a row at Madison Square Garden.