The Toronto Raptors hope a day off has cooled off Jamal Crawford.
Maybe the only reason the Raptors are not going into this game Sunday looking to match their longest winning streak of the season is the play of Crawford, who now tries to lead the New York Knicks to a home-and-home sweep of their Atlantic Division rivals.
When these teams met at Madison Square Garden on Friday, the Knicks (17-38) fell behind by 14 points early in the second quarter. Crawford, though, scored 21 points in the final 8:09 of the period as New York cut the deficit to one point, and he would finish with a season-best 43 points to help hand Toronto a 103-99 defeat.
"I didn't want to let the game get away from us," Crawford said.
He set season highs with 29 shot attempts - making 15 - and 16 3-point tries, but he hit six of those to match a season best.
"With Jamal making shots like that, it's just tough. It's hard to overcome 43 points by one guy," said coach Sam Mitchell, whose Raptors were seeking a third straight win. "Once they took the lead, we just didn't come up with the plays when we needed to."
The Raptors (29-24) have seen such outbursts before from Crawford. The streaky shooting guard scored 27 points in the only other meeting this season - a 99-90 Knicks' home loss on Jan. 11 - and he had a 50-point game at Toronto on April 11, 2004.
The previous month marks the last time the Knicks won a game at the Air Canada Centre. They have lost six in a row at Toronto since a 109-103 win on March 5, 2004.
Friday's victory came after New York lost by 40 in Philadelphia two nights earlier, the only game in the team's last seven in which Crawford has failed to score at least 20 points. It also marked the third win in five games following an eight-game losing streak for the Knicks, who still own the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference.
"I don't think you can look at their record and say, 'Oh, it's a bad team,'" Toronto's Anthony Parker said. "I think they've shown they can go into D.C. and get a win. They are capable of going into Philly and getting beat pretty badly. They've got a lot of talent and a lot of options."
The Raptors, meanwhile, have the fifth-best record in the East and have played very well offensively for much of the past four weeks. They were held below 100 points for just the third time in 12 games Friday, averaging 107.3 points in that span while shooting 50.1 percent from the field.
Point guard Jose Calderon has keyed that stretch with 17.2 points and 10.4 assists per game while shooting 66.1 percent. In the last three games, All-Star Chris Bosh has averaged 33.3 points and shot 72.1 percent while Jamario Moon has averaged 16.0 points, nearly double his season average.
The Raptors have won nine of the last 12 meetings with New York as Bosh has averaged 25.5 points and 8.6 rebounds.
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