New York 103, Miami 96

NEW YORK, March 26 (AP) -- These didn't look like two teams trying to lose.

Jamal Crawford scored 24 points, including the go-ahead jumper with about 2 1/2 minutes left in overtime, and the New York Knicks ended their longest home losing streak in nearly 45 years by beating the Miami Heat 103-96 on Wednesday night.

The Heat have the worst record in the league, the Knicks aren't far behind, and both have turned to young players as the losses mounted down the stretch. So it wasn't surprising that both coaches were asked the "tanking'' question before the game.

But there was no questioning the effort in the closing minutes, as Ricky Davis helped the Heat erase a late nine-point deficit to force overtime before Knicks coach Isiah Thomas went back to his starters to dominate overtime.

"We definitely haven't given up by any means,'' Knicks forward David Lee said. "I don't think there's any lack of effort or any giving up on our part effortwise and I think we're playing for pride at this point. That's about it. But I think we're doing a pretty good job of executing that.''

The Heat overcame a six-point deficit in the final 1:30 of regulation by hitting three 3-pointers, including Davis' tying shot with 6.4 seconds left. Davis opened overtime with another 3, but Miami managed only one free throw the rest of the way.

Davis finished with 28 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Heat, who had seven players from the NBA Development League in the game, including three who were called up last week.

"I think the ball should go to my hands and we should've got better looks in overtime,'' Davis said.

Zach Randolph had 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Lee added 15 points and 16 boards for the Knicks, who had dropped a franchise record-tying seven in a row at home for the first time since Nov. 26-Dec. 17, 1963. New York has never dropped eight in a row at home during one season.

Rookie Wilson Chandler had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Knicks, who had lost five straight overall and 12 of 13. A couple of them seemed suspicious, such as when Thomas benched a healthy Zach Randolph during losses to fellow lottery-bound teams Memphis and Minnesota over the weekend.

"It's tough when you're trying to balance developing young players at the expense of sometimes giving veteran guys minutes who've been around for a long time,'' Thomas said. "Particularly at the end of the season when the games, you don't have a chance to make the playoffs but yet the guys are still able to maintain their focus.

"This is really the toughest time of the year for players and coaches when you're this far out of it.''

New York outrebounded Miami 69-42.

"Incredible disparity. That was our fault,'' Heat coach Pat Riley said. "I mean 69-42. We did enough things to win and be in the game. We didn't shoot the ball well. But that was too much to overcome.''

The Knicks now head out for a five-game road trip. That's probably a welcome break for Thomas, who has been facing daily questions in New York about speculation that he'll be replaced as team president by Donnie Walsh, who announced earlier this week he's leaving the Indiana Pacers.

Madison Square Garden was mostly full but largely quiet, a far cry from the days when these rivals used to battle in intense playoff series. Their only competition this postseason comes May 20 across the river, when both will be in Secaucus, N.J., for the draft lottery.

Miami, without Dwyane Wade, Shawn Marion and almost every other recognizable player on its roster, got 21 points from Daequan Cook and 14 from Kasib Powell, who was called up on Saturday.

Jared Jeffries scored 12 points and Fred Jones 11 for the Knicks, without starters Stephon Marbury, Eddy Curry and Quentin Richardson.

Notes: The Heat fell to 0-14 on Wednesdays and the odds will be against them Thursday at Detroit. They're 0-9 on that day of the week. ... Perhaps to shield himself from more Walsh questions, Thomas canceled practice Tuesday, then ended shootaround Wednesday after less than 20 minutes, before most reporters had arrived. The press was waiting for him before the game, though, as he was nearly 30 minutes late for his pregame press conference because of traffic caused by a brush fire.


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