Crawford steps up
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New York vs Chicago
109 - 101
Record: 5-9
Jamal Crawford scored a season-high 28 points (AP Photo)
Jamal Crawford scored a season-high 28 points (AP Photo)
NEW YORK (AP) -- For one night, Larry Brown might be glad to know his players may have ignored him.

Jamal Crawford scored a season-high 28 points, and the New York Knicks used a huge advantage at the free-throw line and some strong fourth-quarter defense to beat the Chicago Bulls 109-101 Wednesday night.

Crawford and the other Knicks guards constantly went hard to the basket in the second half to turn around the game.

"You have to attack," Crawford said. "Coach wants us to run our offense, but we're out there on the court, so if we see something we have to be aggressive."

It worked for Crawford, who scored 23 points in the second half. He was 10-of-10 from the foul line.

"If I'm out there playing timid, it's not helping my team at all," Crawford said.

And Brown had no problem with the way his team played.

"We controlled the tempo and got to the free throw line," he said. "That's the key with a young team."

Channing Frye added 21 points and Stephon Marbury had 18 for the Knicks, who lost all four meetings last season. They seemed headed to another loss before shutting out Chicago for nearly 5 minutes to start the final quarter.

New York scored the first 13 points of the period, turning an eight-point deficit into an 87-82 lead on two free throws by Crawford with 7:28 remaining. The Knicks had only two field goals during that stretch -- including Trevor Ariza's impressive dunk over Andres Nocioni on a fast break that tied it at 82 -- but hit nine free throws.

New York went 45-for-57 (79 percent) at the line, its season high for makes and attempts. The Bulls were 18-for-25.

"We had terrible trouble keeping their guards from penetrating and our bigs were pretty much no-shows as far as coming over to help or doing anything," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "They were all slow reacting. We were constantly a step slow."

The Bulls finally got their first points of the fourth quarter on Nocioni's drive with just over 7 minutes to go. But Crawford followed with two more free throws and a 3-pointer to make it 92-84, and the Bulls never got closer than five points again.

Ben Gordon scored 28 points for the Bulls, who had their four-game winning streak snapped. Nocioni added 19, and had Chicago's only two field goals in the first 7 minutes of the fourth quarter for the Bulls, who missed 10 of their first 13 attempts in the period -- partly because they weren't nearly as aggressive as the Knicks.

"I don't think they really went to the hole a lot in the second half," Frye said.

All the fouling certainly didn't help the Bulls' offense. They committed 40 and had three players foul out.

"I was disappointed in our fouling more than anything else," Skiles said. "We just continue to foul and foul and let them parade to the line. And when that happens it has an effect on your offense, too, because then it is a disjointed game."

It was the first meeting between the teams since the October deal that sent center Eddy Curry to New York, but Curry missed his fourth straight game because of a strained left calf. Also in that trade but missing Wednesday was Chicago's Tim Thomas, who has been unhappy with his playing time and has left the team.

The Bulls shot 50 percent in the first half and built a 58-50 lead behind 15 points from Gordon. The Knicks stayed close by going 19-of-22 from the line.

Chicago pushed the lead to 12 points, matching its largest of the game, when Kirk Hinrich made a 3-pointer with just under 7 minutes left in the third quarter. New York scored the next seven points to pull within 69-64 on Nate Robinson's 3 with 5:08 remaining and trailed 82-74 entering the final period.

Game notes:
Chicago and New York entered as the NBA's top two teams in reserve scoring. The Bulls were averaging 46.5 points behind Gordon's 14 per game, while the Knicks were getting 40.8 per game from their reserves. The Bulls scored 50 Wednesday night and the Knicks 37. ... Robinson made his first start of the season, joining Frye to give the Knicks two rookies in the starting lineup.

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