Knicks hold on for sixth straight win
NEW YORK (AP)
Raymond Felton's shot bounced on the rim so long that he had time for a prayer.
Not that it was needed. Had it missed, Amare Stoudemire said he would have put the rebound in.
The way he and the New York Knicks are rolling, who would doubt him?
Felton's tiebreaking 3-pointer bounced on the rim five times and finally went in with 2.7 seconds left, giving the Knicks a 113-110 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night that extended their winning streak to six.
''It was bouncing and bouncing. I was praying, praying, praying,'' Felton said.
Stoudemire extended his 30-point streak to six games in sensational fashion, scoring 18 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter and grabbing 14 rebounds. His jumper gave New York a 110-107 lead with 57 seconds remaining and sparked ''MVP!'' chants at Madison Square Garden.
But after Andrea Bargnani tied it with a 3, Felton launched his 3 that also hit the backboard once after Stoudemire couldn't get free. The point guard finished with 28 points and 11 assists, scoring 20 in the first half to carry the Knicks before Stoudemire got going.
''Those two guys are unbelievable, willing us to win,'' Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. ''Whatever phase you want to talk about, they're doing.''
Bargnani had a career-high 41 points, but wasn't close on a desperation 3 just before the buzzer in the Raptors' third straight loss.
Danilo Gallinari scored 20 for the Knicks, who have won 11 of 12 and improved to 14-9, their best mark since finishing the 2000-01 season 48-34. Their six-game winning streak is their longest since also winning six straight in January 2006.
''Any time you can win the way we have been and play with this type of swagger and enjoy all the camaraderie, it's so much fun,'' Stoudemire said. ''We just want to keep that feeling going.''
Stoudemire won his second Eastern Conference player of the week award last week and could be headed toward a third after moving within one of the franchise record of seven straight 30-point outings.
The Knicks threw it to him on nearly every possession down the stretch, but Bargnani never let the Knicks get ahead by more than six in the final quarter.
''I challenge anybody to guard Amare,'' D'Antoni said. ''And Bargnani's 7-feet, puts it on the floor and he shoots ... what are you going to do? Comes down to maybe missing one shot out of five and that's what happened. Amare just didn't miss. Just awesome.''
The Raptors thought they had the Knicks' last play well defended, but Felton noticed a little slip by Jose Calderon that gave him just enough space to pull up from the top of the key.
''I think we did a good job,'' Bargnani said. ''It was good defense by Calderon and what can you say about that shot? There is nothing to say about that shot.''
Though the Knicks are playing their winningest basketball in nearly a decade, their success has been somewhat dismissed because it has come against some weak opposition, including a 116-99 victory in Toronto on Sunday.
But the Knicks won't apologize for their schedule, especially since it's about to turn tougher. Following Friday's game at Washington, they return home for Denver, Boston and Miami over their next three games.
Bargnani shot 16 of 24 from the field and DeMar DeRozan had 19 points for the Raptors, who scored with ease for most of the first half and appeared set to take a comfortable lead until Felton's flurry just before the break.
Bargnani's free throws gave Toronto a 49-36 lead with 5:34 remaining in the half, but Felton quickly wiped that away. He sandwiched a layup between two three-point plays, and followed Wilson Chandler's 3-pointer with one of his own to bring New York within 53-50. Felton finished the half by setting up Stoudemire for a layup, sending the Knicks to the locker room with a 59-57 edge.
Jerryd Bayless' three-point play with 5.6 seconds left in the third gave Toronto a two-point lead, but rookie Ed Davis fouled Stoudemire some 25 feet from the basket 3 seconds later, and the two free throws tied it at 84 headed to the fourth.
Notes: Willie Naulls had seven straight 30-point games for the Knicks from Feb. 22-March 4, 1962. ... The Knicks' last seven-game winning streak was from Dec. 22, 2000-Jan. 7, 2001. ... New York is 9-1 when Felton has a double-double. ... Toronto fell to 5-2 when leading after the first quarter. It is 3-12 when trailing after 12 minutes.