NEW YORK, Dec. 26 (Ticker) -- The New York Knicks nearly blew a 16-point fourth-quarter lead against the expansion Charlotte Bobcats. Then Tim Thomas came to the rescue.

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Thomas scored eight of his season-high 20 points in the final four minutes as the Knicks edged the Bobcats, 91-82, preventing the visitors from posting their first road winning streak.

Nazr Mohammed and Allan Houston chipped in 16 points apiece for New York, which placed guard Jamal Crawford -- its second-leading scorer -- on the injured list with turf toe before the game. With Crawford out at least three weeks, the Knicks had several players step up, placing five players in double figures while rebounding from a pair of poor losses to Dallas and Boston.

The Knicks opened a 76-60 cushion on a jumper by Moochie Norris with 10:07 remaining but could not put away the Bobcats. Charlotte, which rallied from an eight-point deficit vs. the Knicks and posted 107-101 home win on December 4, pulled within 79-77 with 4:23 left after Steve Smith nailed the second of back-to-back 3-pointers.

Smith also led the Bobcats' comeback against New York earlier this month, scoring 20 points. But his 3-pointer turned out to be Charlotte's last basket.

Following Smith's jumper, Thomas countered with a layup and a pair of free throws to open an 83-79 edge with 3:09 remaining. He then split a pair at the line with 1:55 remaining and - after Charlotte point guard Jason Hart threw the ball into the stands -- nailed an uncontested 3-pointer to make it 89-80 with 25 seconds left.

Thomas turned in one of his better outings as a Knick as he made 7-of-11 shots and set a season high in points for the second straight game. He also was able to capitalize on consistent open looks due to double-teams on Houston.

"I would think they'd rather leave me open than (Houston)," Thomas said. "I knew tonight it was going to be key for me to try and take advantage of that."

"It's a different look," Houston added. "It's something we haven't done as much because we really haven't had that look. I try to look for Tim a little bit more because he's 6-10, and if he feels like you have confidence in him, it gets him going."

Thomas, whose inconsistency has been a frustrating issue for the Knicks, also helped them avoid another collapse.

New York has lost five games this month when leading at halftime, blowing a 16-point lead to Detroit on December 15 and a 14-point edge to Orlando on December 3. The Knicks also have struggled to hold big leads in games they have won and have played 20 games decided by 10 points or fewer.

"It was good to get back on track," said Houston, who played a season-high 29 minutes in his first start of the season. "We can't feel great about this win. A win is a win but we are a team with enough talent to not let these types of games get close."

Thomas, who frequently is booed by fans at Madison Square Garden, also shook off any lack of energy due to the early start and posted double figures in points for the fourth time in five games.

"I want it myself," said Thomas, who has suffered two deaths in his family this year. "But every game is a different situation. I just try to fit in and be aggressive when I can."

Rookie Emeka Okafor posted his 15th straight double-double for the Bobcats after collecting 23 points and 15 rebounds. It is the longest streak by a rookie since Shaquille O'Neal also had 15 straight double-doubles for Orlando in 1992-93.

The Bobcats lost their first 10 road games before winning at Houston on Wednesday, 90-87. But they shot under 38 percent (33-of-88), missed their final six baskets and committed 19 turnovers.

"We just weren't very good consistently tonight," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "We fought back and got ourselves in position but then we made two critical mistakes. We had a couple of turnovers and then sometimes we took shots that were turnovers."

The Knicks overcame some early sluggishness and took a 47-42 lead into the locker room. They opened their first double-digit lead at 58-46 following Houston's 3-pointer with 7:33 remaining in the third quarter, and entered the fourth with a 72-60 advantage.

Primoz Brezec scored 13 of his 16 points in the first quarter and Gerald Wallace collected 11 and 14 rebounds for Charlotte, which has lost eight games by 10 points or fewer.