|New York vs Detroit|
|105 - 103|
Jamal Crawford scored 15 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, including the tiebreaking jumper with 2.2 seconds left, and the Knicks rallied to beat the Detroit Pistons 105-103.
Eddy Curry added 16 points and 11 rebounds and Steve Francis scored 15 points for the Knicks, who were decked out in green for the first time ever to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. They looked nothing like the team that is 19-45 in Larry Brown's first season as coach after two seasons with the Pistons.
"It just felt like a playoff atmosphere," Crawford said.
New York (19-45) followed its double-overtime victory over Atlanta on Wednesday night by erasing a 16-point deficit to knock off the team with the NBA's best record while playing with the type of energy that's been lacking for much of the season.
"It's been there. At times we've had it and at times we haven't," Crawford said. "But now we're learning how to finish close games. I think that's going to make us better in the long run."
Chauncey Billups scored 24 points for the Pistons, who lost All-Stars Rasheed Wallace and Richard Hamilton to ejections in the third quarter, and lost the momentum along with them as their magic number to clinch the Central Division title remained at two.
"Rasheed went out, and then not far after that was Rip," Billups said. "It was kind of downhill. They got a little confidence going. The Knicks got back into the game and they came out victorious."
Before the game, Brown compared the matchup to a No. 1 seed against a 16, and it sure looked that way when the Pistons put on an offensive clinic in the first half, making 22 of their first 33 shots.
But New York quickly erased that deficit in the third quarter, then got huge plays down the stretch from Crawford to beat Detroit for the first time in three meetings this season.
Crawford made two straight jumpers to give New York a 96-92 lead, and later hit two free throws to keep it a three-point lead with 1:34 to go. Billups brought the Pistons back and gave them a 101-99 lead with a basket, but Crawford answered with a drive into the lane for a basket while being fouled by Ben Wallace . His free throw gave the Knicks a 102-101 lead.
After Billups missed a jumper, Curry made one free throw for New York. Tayshaun Prince tied it with two free throws, but Crawford came down and made a jumper from the left side.
The Pistons had a chance to tie after Antonio McDyess was fouled by Malik Rose on a desperation shot with 0.7 seconds left. But he missed the first free throw, and Detroit couldn't knock in his intentional miss on the second attempt.
Crawford said the Knicks wanted to win the game for Brown against his old team. The coach endured a tough week while feuding with Stephon Marbury in the media. Marbury and the starters were on the bench for all or most of the fourth quarter after they didn't play at all after the third period on Wednesday.
"I saw them playing hard," Brown said. "That's all we can do from now on. We've got to find out who in that locker room is committed to do that every night."
The Knicks shot 65 percent in the first quarter and trailed by just three points. But Detroit outscored New York 22-9 to open the second, building a 51-35 lead on McDyess' basket with 5 1/2 minutes left in the half.
McDyess was 7-of-9 in the first half, helping Detroit to a 56-49 advantage.
The Knicks rallied quickly during a wild third quarter that included two ejections and five technical fouls. New York scored the first eight points of the half, getting help when Wallace was tossed after picking up two technicals for arguing, and took a 57-56 lead on Curry's alley-oop dunk.
The lead grew to 69-63 after Jalen Rose made a free throw following Hamilton's ejection for reacting harshly to an offensive foul call. He fired the ball to the opposite end of the court, hitting the top of the shot clock, and was immediately thrown out.
"I think Rip was frustrated," Pistons coach Flip Saunders. "He threw the ball at the other end of the backboard in frustration. I don't know if he should have been thrown out of the game. At that point it was a pretty heated situation for both teams."
The Pistons fought back to tie it at 73 heading into the fourth quarter. Brown and Malik Rose were also called for technical fouls during the third.
Brown coached after missing the morning shootaround because of a stomach virus. ... Saunders is four wins away from passing Brown for the best record by a Detroit first-year coach. Brown led the Pistons to a 54-28 mark in 2003-04. ... Billups and Hamilton ran over to the Knicks bench before tipoff for handshakes and hugs with Brown. ... Knicks G Quentin Richardson missed his second straight game with a sprained left thumb.