|New York @ Cleveland|
|92 - 84|
The New York Knicks are starting to believe they can beat anybody.
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. 6.
"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 minutes.
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 at home.
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."
In the fourth, Crawford and Marbury did most of the damage, pulling up for short jumpers or easily driving past Cleveland's backcourt of Jones, Eric Snow and Mike Wilks into the lane for layups.
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 fourth."
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 five-point lead.
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 players.