Worst Month Ever!
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New York @
89 - 96
Record: 18-26
Nazr Mohammed tries to shoot over Chris Kaman (AP Photo)
Nazr Mohammed tries to shoot over Chris Kaman (AP Photo)
The New York Knicks only wish they could fare as well without Allan Houston as the Los Angeles Clippers do without Corey Maggette.

Elton Brand scored 24 points, Chris Kaman had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and rookie Quinton Ross hit a clutch 20-footer down the stretch to help the Clippers beat the Knicks 96-89 on Monday night.

New York dropped to 10-14 without Houston, on the injured list with a chronically sore left knee. The Clippers improved to 6-1 without Maggette, who was sidelined for the second straight game because of an injured collarbone after missing two last week with a foot injury.

"That's a lot to overcome, but Quinton Ross really stepped up, playing good defense and hitting some big shots," Brand said. "Everybody was sharing the ball and it was the same scheme."

Stephon Marbury scored 20 points for the Knicks, who finished 2-13 in January -- the worst month in the franchise's 59-year history. Their previous worst was 3-14 in March 1986 and January 1963. Jamal Crawford scored 11 straight Knicks points in the fourth quarter and finished with 19.

All five starters scored in double figures for the Clippers, who have won four of five following a five-game losing streak. Brand made 10 of 19 shots, blocked five, and got all eight of his rebounds in the second half.

The Knicks have lost 13 of 15 and six straight on the road since a 119-111 win over Orlando on Dec. 27. They are 1-4 since Lenny Wilkens resigned as coach on Jan. 22 and was replaced by Herb Williams.

"It's tough, but you've got to hold up," reserve guard Penny Hardaway said. "You've got to believe that something's going to break through in a positive direction and that we'll be the team that we set out to be when we went to training camp.

"We have to lean on everybody, not just Steph, Jamal or Kurt (Thomas). Everybody has to do their part and collectively be a group that can go out there and win. It's not just one or two people who can go out there and win games by themselves."

New York has dropped all six games against the Clippers at Staples Center since the building opened in 1999. Before that, the Knicks won each of their previous five road games against them.

New York has lost its last 13 games in the Pacific time zone since beating the Lakers on Feb. 16, 2003 -- thanks to Houston's career-high 53 points.

The Clippers, who never led in a 110-96 loss at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 12, didn't take their first lead in this one until Marko Jaric's 3-pointer put them ahead 58-57 with 7:34 left in the third quarter.

Neither team led by more than three over the next 13 1/2 minutes before the Clippers pulled ahead 87-81 with 3:56 to play. Jaric converted his midcourt steal against Marbury into a breakaway layup, and Kaman followed another Knicks turnover with a dunk, then added a 16-footer.

"We played great team defense," said Jaric, who had half of the Clippers' 12 steals. "With guys over there like Stephon, only team defense can contain them."

Crawford responded with a 3-pointer, Jaric blew an easy layup at the other end, and Crawford's layup cut the margin to 87-86 with 2:03 left. But Ross' clutch shot gave the Clippers a 91-87 lead with 1:03 remaining.

"There wasn't any more time on the clock, so I had to shoot it," said Ross, who was 7-for-14. "I work on that shot every day, so it felt real good leaving my hand. I was just grateful that it went in."

Nazr Mohammed sank two free throws, and the Knicks got a break when Jaric made one of two with 22.4 seconds to go. With one last possession and a chance at a tying 3-pointer, the Knicks came out of a timeout and went for a quick two. But Marbury missed a layup and Kaman's two free throws clinched it with 14.1 seconds left.

"I thought we had the game," Crawford said. "All we needed was a stop here or there, but they got some offensive rebounds down the stretch that we needed."

The Knicks, who finished with the second-lowest point total in club history Saturday when they kicked off a six-game road trip with a 91-61 loss at Detroit, made 16 of their first 22 shots against the Clippers and led 51-45 at halftime after shooting 61.5 percent from the field.

Hardaway, who sat out Saturday because of a sprained right ankle, scored nine of his 11 points in the first half and was 5-for-6 from the field in 28 minutes.

The Knicks have now faced the Clippers with a different coach than the one they began the season with in three of the last four seasons. ... Houston has missed 56 games because of injuries since the start of last season. He missed only 19 games in his first 10 NBA seasons combined.

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