The Knicks have beaten only four teams twice this season.
Hours after Knicks coach Larry Brown repeated that some of his
players have stopped trying, the Knicks snapped their nine-game
losing streak and ended Cleveland's winning streak at nine. They
were doing it easily until James helped the Cavs erase all of a
19-point fourth-quarter deficit.
"I was disappointed in our effort," Cavs coach Mike Brown
said. "I thought that our guys felt that they could show up in
this building and win the ballgame whenever they wanted to. We
didn't take care of the basketball, we didn't really share the
basketball. We weren't aggressive attacking until late in the game
and we didn't do a good job defending.
"They beat us from top to bottom, including myself and my whole
staff and all the way down to our equipment guy."
James scored 21 of his 36 points in the final period, including
a basket that tied it for the final time at 94 with 27 seconds
left. But Crawford, who hit winning baskets against Toronto in
February and Detroit last month, came down and hit a high-arching
jumper to put New York back ahead.
The Cavs got the ball to James after a timeout, and he drove
into the lane, but kicked a pass out to Larry Hughes in the corner,
whose 3-point attempt was long.
"We want to end this on a good note," Crawford said. "The
season hasn't really gone like we wanted it to but we have some
good young players and some good veterans and a great coach, so I
think in time we'll be good."
Before the game, Knicks coach Larry Brown said some of his
players have stopped trying, and stopped listening to him. But he
had only praise after the game for Crawford.
"He is the most improved I think player I've ever coached,"
Brown said. "He does things for our team to please me to a
James scored 35 or more points for the eighth straight game, but
Cleveland failed to win 10 straight for the first time since 1997.
"We're a little bit disappointed with the way we started,"
James said. "But you have games like that. We just regroup and get
ready for New Jersey."
The Cavaliers were without center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who
sprained his left ankle Tuesday night in a victory over
Philadelphia. The Cavaliers said he was day to day and hope he can
return for Saturday's game at New Jersey.
Shortly after Larry Brown's pregame remarks, the Knicks came out
and gave a good effort against the Cavs, who seemed flat one night
after 124-91 home victory over Philadelphia that was their most
lopsided of the season.
New York led by as many as 19 points and was still up 18 before
a flurry by James. He hit a 3-pointer, followed his steal with
another 3-pointer, then took a charge before making another 3 to
bring Cleveland within 80-71 with 7:14 remaining.
"It was time to make a move or get blown out," James said. "I
wanted to put pressure on their defense. I was able to get open a
couple of times and get some big shots."
Crawford then made a jumper, and after a free throw by James he
made another to put the Knicks up by 12. But the Cavs kept coming,
getting seven straight points from Flip Murray to tie it at 91 with
1:16 to play.
Drew Gooden had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavs, and
Murray scored 18 points.
The Knicks led 48-37 at halftime behind 16 points from Crawford.
He scored 10 more points in the third quarter, including a
jumper with a second left that made it 74-57.
"We've got to find out who is going to bring it every night,"
Larry Brown said. "It's pretty simple from my perspective to see
that. And that's all any of these people who come to the games can
ask. I don't think we've been fair to them. I know that's going to
Knicks C Jerome James was active after missing Tuesday's
loss at Washington with an upper respiratory infection, but did not
play. ... New York lost 10 in a row from Jan. 28 to Feb. 13. ...
Knicks G Steve Francis thought the Cavs got some help from the
officials in the fourth quarter. "They got some very, very ...
favorable calls down the stretch that we couldn't get at gunpoint
on the other end."