Knicks 102, Kings 97


NEW YORK (AP) – Jamal Crawford, back in a reserve role, scored eight of his 10 points in the final 1:07 as the New York Knicks handed the Sacramento Kings their season-high sixth straight loss, 102-97 Monday.

Stephon Marbury scored 25 points and Eddy Curry added 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Knicks, who won for the fourth time in five games. David Lee finished with 15 points and 12 boards.

Kevin Martin scored 30 points for Sacramento, on its longest skid since dropping the final seven games of the 1997-98 season. Shareef Adbur-Rahim had 25 and Ron Artest, playing in his hometown for the first time in nearly three years, finished with 12. He shot 4-of-15, missing a potential tying 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds left.

The Knicks put Quentin Richardson back into the starting lineup and returned Crawford to a reserve role. The move figured to give New York a badly needed defensive boost after it allowed Charlotte to shoot 59 percent in a 126-110 loss on Friday.

Crawford had only two points heading into the final minutes, but he has been perhaps the Knicks’ best clutch player during the last two seasons.

With the Knicks trailing by three, he banked in a shot with 1:07 remaining, then found Lee under the basket. Artest fouled Lee, who made both free throws to give New York a 96-95 lead with 37 seconds left.

Abdur-Rahim put the Kings ahead for the final time, but Crawford came right back with a floater to provide the Knicks a 98-97 advantage with 18 seconds to play. After a timeout, the Kings turned it over on an illegal screen, and were forced to foul Crawford. He made both to make it 100-97, then added another pair after Artest’s miss.

The weary Kings, who traveled across the country overnight Saturday after losing at home, lost another close one. Three of the defeats during their skid, including Saturday’s, came in overtime.

Sacramento led 27-23 after shooting 53 percent in the first quarter. But the Kings got sloppy when the Knicks extended their defense in the second, committing three turnovers to fuel a 9-0 spurt that gave New York a 34-28 lead. The Knicks led 49-47 at halftime after Channing Frye’s 3-pointer as time expired.

The Kings had nine turnovers against six assists in the first half. Artest had two of his first three shots blocked and was 2-of-8 in 22 minutes.

Neither team led by more than five points in the third quarter, which ended with Sacramento ahead 76-75 after Martin’s jumper with 22 seconds remaining.

Notes: The Knicks improved to 16-5 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. They had lost their previous two. … The Kings had won two in a row at MSG after losing 17 of their previous 18. … Because of his suspension for the brawl in Detroit and his trade last season from Indiana to Sacramento, Artest hadn’t played at Madison Square Garden since Feb. 3, 2004, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

AP-ES-01-15-07 1547EST