Unstopable Crawford
W
101
86
New York @ Boston
101 - 86
Record: 22-54
Jamal Crawford led the Knicks for the 4th straight game (AP Photo)
Jamal Crawford led the Knicks for the 4th straight game (AP Photo)
BOSTON (AP) - With little else to play for this season, it was easy for the New York Knicks to remember what the Boston Celtics did to them less than two weeks ago.

Jamal Crawford scored 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, leading the Knicks over the Celtics 101-86 on Sunday.

On March 29, the Celtics embarrassed the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, rolling to a 123-98 win.

"There's motivation there," Malik Rose said with a smile. "All we can say is we didn't quit today and there's a good chance we'll see each other in the lottery, too."

The victory was the Knicks' third straight, just their second three game-winning streak this season. The other came when they won six in a row in early January.

Boston's slim playoff hopes took a big hit with the loss, dropping the Celtics 3 1/2 games behind both eighth-place Philadelphia and Chicago with five games to play. The Bulls and 76ers each have six games left in their battle for the Eastern Conference's last playoff spot.

Nate Robinson finished with 12 points for the Knicks, who outscored the Celtics 31-10 in the fourth quarter. Jackie Butler added 10 points.

Led by unheralded players David Lee , Butler and Robinson, the Knicks outhustled the Celtics in the final quarter. They outrebounded Boston 12-5, with Lee grabbing seven.

"The young guys just have so much energy," Crawford said. "This is a great opportunity for them."

Paul Pierce led Boston with 19 points, but scored just one point in the final quarter. He was rested for the opening 4:55. Tony Allen had 18 points, Kendrick Perkins 17 and Gerald Green 14, including a pair of flying baseline dunks.

"We just lost focus," Allen said. "We got caught up too much in highlight play, got caught up too much in the emotion of it."

The Knicks hit 13 of 20 shots in the final quarter; Boston was 3-of-12.

"It fell apart," Boston coach Doc Rivers said of the game, but he could have been referring to the Celtics' playoff hopes.

The Knicks, though, were happy that they've played well lately despite some key injuries.

"I'm just proud of the young kids," New York coach Larry Brown said. "They've been playing in tough situations and finding ways to contribute."

The Knicks took their first lead since the game's opening minutes on Robinson's jumper early in the final quarter, making it 77-76.

After Boston tied it at 79 on Ryan Gomes ' two free throws with 8:31 to play, New York took the lead for good on Maurice Taylor 's free throw. Robinson and Lee sandwiched baskets around Green's jam. But Green missed a free throw that would have completed a three-point play and tied it.

The Knicks then went on a 15-1 burst over the ensuing 3:21 to take control, keyed by five points from Lee.

The Celtics opened a 67-57 lead on Allen's two free throws midway through the third quarter, but the Knicks scored 13 of the next 20 points before Green's baseline jam gave Boston a 76-70 edge after three.

The Celtics opened a 10-point lead late in the first quarter before the Knicks cut it to 28-23 at the end of the period. Boston opened a 10-point advantage again in the second and held a 52-43 halftime edge.

Notes:
Boston G Delonte West left the game with a strained left calf in the first quarter and didn't return. ... New York's Stephon Marbury missed his fifth straight game due to a strained left patella tendon. Channing Frye (sprained left knee ligament) and Jalen Rose (right knee tendinitis) remained on New York's inactive list. ... Crawford had game-winning shots twice in three nights earlier in the week. ... It was Al Jefferson Bobblehead Day. ... It was New York's first win against Boston after losing the first three games this season.

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