Knicks reach dubious milestone

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NEW YORK – Raymond Felton had 16 points and a season-high 14 assists to lead the Charlotte Bobcats to a 98-91 victory over the New York Knicks, who tied a franchise record with their 59th loss.

In a matchup of the two worst teams in the Eastern Conference, both clubs were without key players – and the Knicks were without their coach. Larry Brown missed his third straight game with a stomach ailment, leaving Herb Williams to run the team.

Rookie Alan Anderson scored a season-high 18 points and Jake Voshkuhl added 17 points and nine rebounds for the Bobcats.

Jamal Crawford scored 24 points and Eddy Curry had 16 for the Knicks, who shot 51 percent but committed 17 turnovers – just shy of their NBA-worst average – that led to 20 points for the Bobcats.

Charlotte won its third straight and improved to 5-3 in April, clinching the first winning month in franchise history. The Bobcats also completed their first season sweep of an East team.

The Knicks are making the wrong kind of history. Besides matching the 1962-63 and 1985-86 teams with 59 losses, Monday’s defeat guaranteed they will finish alone in last place in the East.

The Bobcats dressed nine players, and among those who weren’t available were leading scorer Gerald Wallace, top rebounder Emeka Okafor and assists leader Brevin Knight.

New York was missing Stephon Marbury, the team leader in scoring and assists, plus Steve Francis, Jalen Rose, Channing Frye and Quentin Richardson. The Knicks hope Brown will return Wednesday night in their season finale at New Jersey.

The Knicks will have to win that game to avoid the first 60-loss season in franchise history. They were 21-59 in 1962-63 and 23-59 during the 1985-86 season.

Fittingly, they had plenty of ugly moments in this loss. Jackie Butler missed a wide-open layup in the second quarter, and Curry had a shot attempt hit the padding underneath the backboard in the fourth.

Both teams were 11-of-19 (58 percent) in the first quarter, which ended with New York leading 27-26. But the Knicks committed eight turnovers in the second period, leading to 12 points as the Bobcats took a 55-49 lead into halftime.

Charlotte missed its first eight shots in the second half, allowing New York to take a 56-55 lead on Malik Rose’s free throw just under 5 minutes into the quarter. Voskuhl’s basket with 6:40 left in the period ended the Bobcats’ scoreless drought and put them back in the lead, which they extended to 76-69 on Voshkuhl’s jumper with 4 seconds to go.

The Knicks got as close as 91-88 in the closing minutes after consecutive jumpers by Crawford, but Felton scored on Charlotte’s next two possessions to put away the game.

Notes: Even though he wasn’t coaching, the loss goes on Brown’s record. His worst season was in 1988-89, when he went 21-61 with San Antonio. … Charlotte tied its longest winning streak of the season. The Bobcats also won three in a row in February. … The Knicks finished 15-26 at home, their worst record since the 1985-86 team had the same record.

AP-ES-04-17-06 2205EDT

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