The New York Knicks haven't had many chances to feel good about themselves this season, but their performance their last time out was an exception.
The Knicks will be looking to build off their biggest win of the season on Friday when they visit the Charlotte Bobcats.
New York (8-17) shot a season-best 56.2 percent and led by as many as 24 points on Wednesday in a 108-90 win over defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland. The win came just two nights after coach Isiah Thomas publicly questioned his team's heart and toughness following a 119-92 loss to Indiana.
"It was really a bit of an embarrassment and discouragement just after Monday's game, getting beat by 30 points in a quarter," said David Lee, who scored 17 of his 22 points in the first half Wednesday. "Having the fans and the media have it get to the point that it is now, we knew we had to come out tonight and give it our best."
The victory also came just hours after two dozen fans rallied outside Madison Square Garden, holding a signed 8-by-4-foot pink placard urging Garden chairman James Dolan to fire Thomas.
"I continue to stress he's not playing, he's coaching," Jamal Crawford, who scored 21 points, said of Thomas. "There's only so much he can do from the sideline. So the players he puts out there have to make it happen."
The Knicks will get a one-game respite from their frustrated fans on Friday, but it likely won't be an easy trip. New York is just 1-9 on the road this season and 2-4 all-time in Charlotte against the Bobcats (9-14).
The Knicks will also likely be without point guard Stephon Marbury, who was away from the team on Thursday because of a combination of flu-like symptoms and personal reasons. Marbury has missed six of the last nine games since his father died Dec. 2.
"He's really having a rough time," said Thomas, who wasn't sure when Marbury would return. "I hope that he can come out of this because he's having a very difficult time."
Aside from Marbury's absence, however, the Knicks were upbeat on Thursday.
"I think this could be a big stepping stone for us," Lee said. "I guess we're going to see tomorrow. That's the big test: Can we follow it up with another win?"
The Bobcats are coming off a big win of their own, 98-92 over Utah on Wednesday. Charlotte trailed by 12 points with less than six minutes left, but finished the game on a 24-6 run.
The win came after part-owner Michael Jordan sat in on a film session and a team meeting on Monday and went through shooting drills with the team on Tuesday.
"He gets a little bit of credit for this," said Gerald Wallace, who had 26 points. "The intensity that you saw tonight came from him. He told us to keep our intensity (up) and stay aggressive at all times."
Jason Richardson added 24 points and Raymond Felton scored 17 for the Bobcats, who have split their last six games. Nazr Mohammed, acquired last week in a trade with Detroit, had 17 points and eight rebounds in his first start.
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