CLEVELAND (AP) -- Larry Brown's verbal taunts, motivational talks
and coaching techniques are finally taking hold.
The New York Knicks are starting to believe they can beat
Jamal Crawford scored 26 points, 20 in the second half, and New
York held Cleveland to 12 points in the fourth quarter as the
Knicks won their season-high fourth straight, 92-84 over the
Cavaliers on Tuesday night.
Stephon Marbury added 22 points as the Knicks, suddenly playing
their best ball of the season, won their first road game since Dec.
"We're getting a better grasp of this," Crawford said after
the Knicks extended their longest winning streak since 2003-04.
"It takes awhile, but the guys are communicating and we're
executing what coach wants."
Cleveland wasted another superb game from LeBron James, who
finished with 36 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in 46
James became the first NBA player to get at least 30 points,
seven rebounds and five assists in seven straight games since Oscar
Robertson in 1966.
"That kid is playing great," said Brown, who coached James on
the 2004 U.S. Olympic team. "I don't know how you can guard him.
He's getting better and better and better."
James, though, got very little help from the other Cavaliers,
who shot more 3-pointers (28) than free throws (20) and were
outrebounded and outplayed by a team they should be able to handle
Cavs guard Damon Jones went 1-for-5 on 3-pointers, and is just
6-for-37 on 3s in his last seven games.
"I'm officially in a slump," Jones said.
He wasn't alone in the fourth quarter, as the Knicks didn't let
Cleveland score a field goal for a 7:29 stretch. New York outscored
Cleveland 15-6 over the final 7:47, and as the Cavs left the floor
to embark on a six-game West Coast road trip, they were sent off
with boos from their fans.
"I don't think we were ready to play from the opening tip,"
James said. "Once you get to the point where every game means the
same, where every game you play for 48 minutes, then you become a
great team. Right now, we are not."
Crawford and Marbury outscored the Cavs' trio 57-11.
"We played perfect in the fourth," said Brown, whose team is
4-1 since he criticized Marbury following a Dec. 28 loss to
Orlando. "That was huge. We played the fourth quarter as well as
we've played any quarter all year."
The Knicks trailed 72-67 entering the fourth, but pulled even at
81-all on Marbury's 17-foot jumper. The Cavaliers, who went 4-of-20
from the field in the final 12 minutes, couldn't get anything to
drop and Crawford made two baskets before rookie Channing Frye
drained a jumper to give the Knicks an 87-81 lead.
The Cavs didn't get another bucket until James scored with 17
seconds to go, but by then it was too late, and New York snapped a
five-game road losing streak.
"We never felt like we were out of it," Marbury said.
"Collectively, everyone communicated so well on defense in the
James stuck with a jump shot that wasn't there in the first
half, scoring 14 points in the third as the Cavs opened their
With Cleveland down 57-56 midway through the third and center
Zydrunas Ilgauskas on the bench in foul trouble, James found his
range and buried three straight jumpers in an 11-1 spurt that put
the Cavs up by 11.
James scored 18 in the opening half, but trying to do too much,
he forced shots and went only 7-of-17 from the floor. Ilgauskas,
who finished with only eight points, spent most of the second
quarter stuck on the bench with three fouls, and New York exploited
his absence inside to open a 45-44 halftime lead.
James' seven-game streak of scoring at least 30 is the
longest in the league since Tracy McGrady had 14 in a row in 2003.
... James hasn't decided yet if he'll play on the U.S. team at the
2006 World Championships or 2008 Olympics. He didn't get much
playing time for Brown at the Athens Games and admitted that wasn't
all because of Brown. "I was a little air-headed," James said.
"It was my fault also, not knowing what I was getting myself
into." ... Although at one point last summer he was rumored to be
Cleveland bound, Brown insists he was never close to becoming the
Cavs coach. ... C Zendon Hamilton signed a 10-day contract with the
Cavs, less than one week after they waived him. ... Marbury has
played in 276 straight games, the fifth-longest streak among active