The New York Knicks have put together a surprising winning streak without Stephon Marbury. Now, they'll try to win four straight for the first time in two years Friday night when they visit the Washington Wizards.
The Knicks (12-26), the last-place team in the Atlantic Division, appear to be preparing for an extended period without Marbury, who will undergo an MRI on his injured left ankle that he claims needs surgery.
"I have pain when I'm running up and down the court," said Marbury, who has missed 14 games this season for various reasons. "I need surgery."
Marbury suffered the injury in a loss to Toronto last Friday and New York has responded by winning a season-high three straight games without the mercurial point guard. The team hasn't won four in a row since a six-game winning streak from Jan. 2-13, 2006.
The Knicks' current stretch started with a stunning 89-65 win over Central Division-leading Detroit on Sunday before a 105-93 win over Washington (20-17) on Tuesday. They extended the streak one night later with a 111-105 win at New Jersey.
"Our resiliency, just persevering, we're starting to play with the type of grit that we were playing with last year," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said.
New York's success also has it in position to win three consecutive road games for the first time since April 10-16, 2005. However, the Knicks are 3-13 away from Madison Square Garden - the third-worst road mark in the NBA.
Their overall surge has been helped by outstanding shooting from Jamal Crawford.
Crawford, the team's leader with a career-high 19.8 points per game, scored a season-high 35 points against the Nets on 11-of-20 shooting - 6-of-10 from 3-point range. That performance came after the shooting guard made 11 of 19 shots, while sinking 6 of 7 from beyond the arc for 29 points against Washington.
He's averaging 25.2 points over the last six games, which includes four wins.
The Wizards, winners of five of their last seven, are hoping to rebound from their letdown against New York, which came a night after they completed a home-and-home sweep of the NBA-leading Boston Celtics with an 88-83 victory.
"It's one thing to say you beat the best team in the league back-to-back and all of a sudden you come back, lose to a team that's won what, 11 games before tonight?" Wizards forward Antawn Jamison said. "You've still got to lace them up. You've still got to be focused enough and you've still got to bring the energy early in the game. And for us those were the things that pretty much lost the game for us."
Jamison, who had 21 points and eight rebounds against the Knicks, is averaging 21.2 points and a career-high 10.8 rebounds. He's been a force on the glass over the last four games, averaging 12.8 boards.
The Wizards and Knicks split two games at the Verizon Center last season.
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