- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 9, 2005

NEW YORK — Larry Hughes and Gilbert Arenas combined for 50 points but the Washington Wizards, playing without Antawn Jamison for the first time this season, lost to the New York Knicks 93-83 last night at Madison Square Garden.

Hughes (27 points) and Arenas (23) were unable to make up for the absence of Jamison — the third member of the team’s Big Three — whose NBA-leading streak of 386 consecutive games came to an end because of right knee tendinitis.

The Wizards (33-26) also were missing Anthony Peeler and Etan Thomas. Both sat out with the flu.

Improving to 5-1 since the trade deadline, the Knicks received 19 points from Jamal Crawford and solid all-around contributions from several players.

Crawford also had six assists and six rebounds, Kurt Thomas added 15 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, and Stephon Marbury had 14 points, 10 assists and four rebounds.

New York won at home for the seventh straight time and made up another game on Philadelphia and New Jersey in its quest to get back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Knicks (26-34) are now eight games under .500, the closest they’ve been to the break-even point since Jan. 31.

“We went through a rough stretch, but that stretch is behind us now and we’re playing pretty good basketball. It seems like other teams are going down and we keep going up,” Crawford said.

For the second straight game, the Knicks got the job done with a big second-half run. Two days after they had a 21-1 spurt in a victory over Golden State, the Knicks used a 15-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to take control.

The Knicks held Washington scoreless for a nearly eight-minute stretch of the final two quarters, using their big run to stretch a 64-63 lead to 79-63. Crawford started the spurt with a 3-pointer, and Thomas added eight points on four outside jumpers.

Washington came back with a 9-0 run to pull within seven, but Maurice Taylor hit a 4-footer and came up with a steal to start an 8-1 run that wrapped up the victory.

“Obviously we didn’t play well at times, but we played as hard as we could,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said.

Tim Thomas and Penny Hardaway each added 12 points for the Knicks, whose reserves outscored Washington’s 26-3.

New York, which hasn’t lost at home since Feb. 9 against Miami, will play its next two games at home against Seattle and Miami before playing six of eight on the road. The Knicks, who moved past the Nets into third place in the Atlantic Division, are 19-12 at home and 7-22 on the road.

“We’re not that far out of it,” coach Herb Williams said. “Any time you have a chance in this league, you have to believe. Once you stop believing, you might as well go home for the summer.”

New York led 48-40 at halftime, but Washington opened the second half with a 13-0 run capped by a pair of 3-pointers by Arenas for a 53-48 lead. But Wizards center Brendan Haywood picked up his fifth foul with 7:46 left in the third quarter, and the Knicks were ahead 75-63 by the time Haywood returned with 10:12 remaining in the game.

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