Knicks 98, Pacers 96

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NEW YORK – Jamal Crawford hit his second game-winning basket in three nights, making a jumper with 0.5 seconds left to help the New York Knicks beat the Indiana Pacers 98-96 on Friday night.

Though the Knicks (21-54) don’t win often, Crawford is developing a reputation as a clutch player. All of New York’s last three victories have come with him hitting the go-ahead basket in the closing seconds, including Wednesday’s 96-94 victory over Cleveland.

Crawford finished with 23 points and Nate Robinson had 16 for the Knicks, who broke open the game midway through the final quarter, but needed more heroics from Crawford after the Pacers fought back with their 3-point shooting.

Qyntel Woods overcame an embarrassing miss to add 13 points.

Peja Stojakovic scored 32 points and Jermaine O’Neal added 25 for the Pacers, who have lost seven straight road games. Stephen Jackson scored 17, including the basket that tied it with 8.5 seconds left.

But Crawford quickly brought the ball down the floor, dribbled left and pulled up from the left side for the tiebreaking basket. The Pacers called timeout, but couldn’t get off a final shot.

The Pacers fought back from a nine-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter to tie the game at 96 on Jackson’s drive with 8.5 seconds left.

Indiana hasn’t won on the road since beating the Hornets on March 10. The Pacers remained in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, a half-game behind Milwaukee.

O’Neal’s three-point play with 9:28 remaining gave Indiana a 75-74 lead, but Maurice Taylor and Robinson made jumpers to give the Knicks a three-point lead. After a free throw by Eddy Curry, Robinson made a 3-pointer, then found David Lee on the break for a dunk, putting the Knicks up 84-75 with 5:26 to go.

Jackson made two free throws to end New York’s 10-0 run, then made a 3-pointer with 4:55 remaining to end the field goal drought and bring the Pacers within 84-80.

Indiana’s next four field goals were also 3-pointers, helping the Pacers close within 94-92 on Stojakovic’s 3 with 1:28 to go. But he missed on their next trip with a chance to give Indiana the lead.

The Knicks led by three at halftime and should have scored the first basket of the second half when Woods came in alone for a dunk after a steal. But he badly missed his attempt at a 360, and the Pacers scored the next six points to grab a 52-49 lead.

With Indiana leading by one later in the quarter, Johnson and Stojakovic opened and closed a 10-2 burst with 3-pointers as the Pacers pulled ahead 70-61 with 2:11 remaining in the period.

Neither team led by more than six points during a tightly played first half. Jackie Butler snapped the eighth and final tie of the half with two straight baskets in the final minute, and New York led 49-46 at halftime.

Notes: Pacers PG Jamaal Tinsley was sidelined for the second straight game with a sore right Achilles’. Reserve Fred Jones returned after missing two games with a torn ligament in left hand. He had two points while playing with the wrist taped … The Knicks remained without Stephon Marbury (knee), Jalen Rose (right knee, left foot) and Quentin Richardson (left thumb). … Swingman Ime Udoka, who became the first player called up from the D-League by the Knicks on Thursday, made his debut late in the first quarter and was scoreless. … The teams meet again Monday night at Indianapolis.

AP-ES-04-07-06 2245EDT

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