Bench Ignites Rally as Knicks Edge Hawks
New York 121, Atlanta 117 (2OT)
NEW YORK, March 15 (Ticker) -- New York Knicks coach Larry Brown made a statement, and his bench heard the message loud and clear.
Jamal Crawford scored 21 points and fellow reserves Qyntel Woods and rookie Nate Robinson added 18 apiece as the Knicks rallied for a wild 121-117 double-overtime triumph over the Atlanta Hawks.
Brown pulled Marbury in favor of Robinson with one minute remaining in the third period as New York trailed by 12. Rather than the starters, Crawford, Woods, Robinson, Jackie Butler and rookie David Lee played down the stretch.
The reserves responded by energizing a dormant Madison Square Garden crowd and lifting the Knicks to their seventh victory this season when trailing by 10 points or more.
"They were great," Brown said. "I thought we played pretty good the first half. In the fourth quarter, we just went to the young kids. They were phenomenal."
New York trailed, 117-115, with 90 seconds remaining in the second overtime when Robinson drilled a jumper from the left elbow to even the score.
The 5-9 winner of the Slam Dunk Contest, Robinson gave the Knicks a 118-117 lead 22 seconds later by making 1-of-2 free throws.
"It was a great day," said Robinson, who scored all of his points after the third quarter. "I pretty much let the game come to me. I was just trying to get everybody involved. We just waited on the bench for our numbers to be called. Today was a great day to showcase our talent."
Woods, Crawford, Lee and Butler all had thunderous dunks late in the contest to ignite the crowd of 18,902 as New York's bench outscored Atlanta's reserves, 77-17.
"The young kids have been working hard," Brown said. "They made some big plays and that's a reward in itself."
"They came in with some energy we really hadn't played with the whole night," Hawks swingman Joe Johnson said. "It hurt us, we let them back in the game. They made some big plays and from that point, it was like a battle."
Crawford added a free throw with 32 seconds remaining and Butler made a pair from the line in the waning seconds - after Johnson missed two makeable shots - to push the lead to 121-117 and seal the victory.
"It was a lot of fun," said Crawford, who served as New York's floor general down the stretch while Marbury and fellow starter Steve Francis sat. "Guys just played hard. Everybody that came in just contributed; we just want to bring energy. At times we're going to make mistakes but we're going to get better."
Johnson had 36 points and nine rebounds, Al Harrington scored 28 points and Zaza Pachulia added a career-high 26 for the Hawks (20-42), who led by as many as 12 in the third quarter but suffered their third straight loss.
Despite his phenomenal effort, Johnson battled an ankle injury and was shut down by a pesky Woods in the second overtime.
"He's fine," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "I think he tweaked his ankle a little bit, but he's been a workhorse for us. I'm always OK with Joe."
Johnson scored just two points in the second overtime and missed an eight-foot runner which would have tied the game with five seconds to go. He lamented the nine turnovers his team committed over the final 22 minutes.
"We had the game in our hands many a time," he said. "We had a couple of mental lapses. We were just giving them the ball back, and it hurt us."
New York (18-45) owned a 97-93 lead with under two minutes remaining in regulation. But Harrington made two free throws to halve the deficit and Josh Smith converted a pair from the line with 38 seconds left to forge a 97-97 tie.
Robinson's dazzling three-point play brought the crowd to its feet and gave the Knicks a 109-106 advantage with 1:05 left in the first overtime.
However, Woods failed to switch on a screen on the ensuing possession, allowing Johnson to drill an open 3-pointer with 56 seconds to go and force another extra period.