Sixers fall to the Knicks

January 25, 2008 8:59:17 PM PST
Nate Robinson grinned as he insisted the gash above his right eye came from teammate David Lee's errant first-half elbow. Zach Randolph praised his team's defense, and Knicks coach Isiah Thomas talked about trust and understanding.

This was one different scene than the last time New York played Philadelphia.

Randolph had 16 points and 15 rebounds to help the Knicks beat the 76ers 89-81 Friday night in a matchup of two of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference.

"I think we are playing our best ball right now," said Jamal Crawford, who finished with 18 points.

That wasn't the case the last time the Knicks played the Sixers. Philadelphia routed New York 105-77 at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 8, finishing off a sweep of consecutive games against the Knicks.

"I think we are turning the corner as a team," New York's Eddy Curry said. "We are caring enough to really share the ball."

Lee had 14 points, Robinson finished with 13 and Curry 11 for New York, which has won five of seven and now head west for a five-game trip that starts Sunday night at Golden State.

"I just think, right now, we're playing with again a lot more trust," Thomas said. "There's a lot more trust and a lot more honesty."

New York had lost four straight, and eight of its last nine against Philadelphia. The Sixers were trying to win five straight against the Knicks for the first time since taking seven in a row from Oct. 26, 1985-Nov. 19, 1986.

Andre Iguodala scored 24 for Philadelphia, which has lost three straight and four of five. The Sixers are 2-11 this month.

The Knicks (14-28) and the Sixers (16-28) are at the bottom of the Atlantic Division. Only Miami had a worst winning percentage in the East entering play Friday night.

Philadelphia had a chance to tie it at 82 with 3:34 to go but Iguodala missed two free throws. Crawford responded with a three-point play and a clutch jumper down the stretch to put New York in front 87-81 with 57 seconds left.

"I thought they made plays late in the game, (Crawford) particularly getting the ball in his hands and him being able to get to the basket and make some plays," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said.

Willie Green had 13 points and Samuel Dalembert 12 for Philadelphia.

The Sixers scored one point in the final 4:59.

"They just played good defense," Iguodala said. "The zone played a huge factor in the game. They kept us out of rhythm. We didn't really get too many points in the paint. We shot a lot of jump shots and credit that to their zone."

Green made two free throws with 4:35 left in the third quarter to put Philadelphia ahead 61-60, its first lead since early in the first quarter.

The teams were tied at 65 before New York put together a 7-0 run to take control again. Robinson scored on an acrobatic layup, Crawford connected on a 3-pointer and Randolph found Lee for a dunk to make it 72-65 with 34.9 remaining.

"We are playing a lot better basketball," Randolph said. "We are playing more together and getting better movement."

Knicks G Fred Jones was inactive with flulike symptoms. Mardy Collins started in his place. ... Sixers C Calvin Booth was active for the first time since Jan. 15. ... F Shavlik Randolph, F Louis Admundson and F/C Herbert Hill were inactive for Philadelphia.