- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Wilson Chandler scored 24 points to spark the New York Knicks to a third straight victory on their critical road trip, 102-94 over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

Nate Robinson finished with 25 points, though 14 came from the foul line. He shot just 5-for-15 from the field after scoring 62 points in wins earlier this week over Milwaukee and Detroit. But the Knicks improved to 3-1 on this five-game road trip, with Sunday’s game at Cleveland looming large.

Ryan Gomes tied his season high with 28 points and Sebastian Telfair added 22 for Minnesota, which fell to 2-13 without Al Jefferson after turning the ball over 19 times.

They kept the deficit between five and nine points for most of the last part of the fourth quarter, pulling within 92-87 on a pair of free throws by Craig Smith shortly before the 2-minute mark. But Chandler quickly followed with a floater in the lane, and Minnesota couldn’t come closer.

With six not-quite-average teams pushing for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks _ in spite of all their struggles _ have strengthened their chance with this week’s surge. They lifted their road record to 10-22 and made sure they’d stay no more than 1 1/2 games out of eighth place.

Coach Mike D’Antoni has resisted making Robinson his starting point guard, even during Chris Duhon’s struggles, but with Duhon shut down for two or three days due to soreness in his back and ankle, D’Antoni made the switch.

Robinson’s 3-pointer stretched New York’s lead to 34-26 early in the second quarter, but he picked up three fouls in a span of just more than 3 minutes near halftime.

After the last one, a charging call on the end of a fast break, Robinson was whistled for a technical after he was sitting. D’Antoni bolted to the end of the bench where Robinson was sitting and gave him a brief lecture.

Minnesota ended the half with a 15-4 run and went up 48-46 on a 3-pointer by Brooklyn native Telfair, who had 20 points against his hometown team the last time they played at Madison Square Garden the day after Christmas. The Wolves won that one 120-107, going 13-for-24 from 3-point range. They went 6-for-23 Friday.

The Wolves, who were coming off a 25-point win over Memphis on Wednesday, have been led in scoring by Gomes five straight games.

Notes:@ The Knicks won here for the first time in five seasons, last on Nov. 26, 2003. … Minnesota hosts Charlotte Saturday, finishing a stretch of four home games in six nights. … David Lee had another double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds, giving him a league-leading 53 in 64 games. … McHale had no problem with his limited substitution options: “Eight or nine guys, no one’s complaining about playing time. There’s not 17 players behind the bench. We’re going to get it down to where it needs to be all the time.”

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