NEW YORK -- Short-handed and exhausted, the New York Knicks had persevered for nearly 58 minutes. Then somehow, they found a way to execute a play none of them remembered seeing before.
Still missing three suspended players after last Saturday's brawl with the Nuggets and playing without injured starters Steve Francis and Quentin Richardson, the Knicks were forced into overtime for the second time in three nights. They played only eight players, just as they did Monday when they came from 16 points down to beat Utah 97-96.
This time, New York erased a 19-point deficit, grinding out the win after managing just three field goals in the fourth quarter. It was the largest lead the Bobcats have ever blown.
"It's more gratifying winning like how we're winning now, because we know that we're down the numbers," Stephon Marbury said.
The Knicks inbounded from the sideline with 0.1 seconds left, not enough time to catch and shoot under NBA rules. The only way to score in that situation is a tip - and that's exactly what they got.
Jamal Crawford threw a pass from the sideline over the rim and over Gerald Wallace, a superb jumper who had scored on a few alley-oops earlier in the game. Lee leaped with his right hand -- his non-shooting one -- and guided the ball into the hoop for New York's second buzzer-beating bucket of the week.
Coach Isiah Thomas said the Knicks had never worked on the play, and none of his players recognized it, either.
"I've never seen a play like that and it worked to perfection," Crawford said.
Channing Frye matched a career high with 30 points and Eddy Curry had 29 for the Knicks, who kept all five starters on the floor for at least 47 minutes. Starting guards Marbury and Crawford each played 54 minutes.
"I think these guys will absolutely die if we have to keep playing them these many minutes at this type of intensity," Thomas said.
Crawford scored 25 points and Lee had 19 rebounds to go with his 10 points.
The Bobcats scored the first five points of the second overtime, going up 107-102 on Wallace's three-point play with 3:32 remaining. The Knicks battled back to tie it at 109 on a three-point play by Curry with 1:30 to play.
It stayed tied after the Bobcats turned it over, setting up New York's winning play.
James was back Wednesday but didn't play.
"It's definitely one of the darkest moments for a lot of us on this team, but we're finding a way to come closer," Curry said. "I think everybody here is past it. We realize the nine guys we have now are the guys that's going to have to battle until the other guys get back."
Wallace scored 28 points for the Bobcats, but he was fooled on the winning play, thinking Lee was going to set a screen for Curry. Primoz Brezec had 21 before fouling out for the Bobcats.
"When you're a team like we are, things tend to happen the wrong way for us," Wallace said. "Their luck tonight, our bad luck."
Charlotte scored the first four points of the first overtime before Frye answered with consecutive jumpers. Raymond Felton and Crawford both missed in the closing seconds.
The Knicks led by seven after three, but were only 3-of-14 for a season-worst nine points in the fourth quarter. Charlotte came back to take a 95-93 lead on Wallace's basket with 57 seconds remaining, but Frye tied it 18 seconds later. Misses by Wallace and Crawford forced the extra period.
The Bobcats led 77-70 after Wallace's 3-pointer with 4:50 remaining in the third quarter, but the Knicks held them without another field goal while outscoring them 16-2 to close the period.
Curry's alley-oop dunk triggered a 13-0 run, and the Knicks had an 83-77 lead after Frye's dunk with 1:14 to go. A pair of free throws by Matt Carroll ended Charlotte's four-minute scoreless drought before Crawford's 3-pointer just before the buzzer made it 86-79 heading to the fourth.
Charlotte shot 58 percent in the first quarter to take a 35-28 lead. The Bobcats seemed to be toying with the Knicks in the second, finding Wallace down the floor with lob passes on three straight possessions to increase their advantage to 62-43 with 2:33 left in the half.
The Bobcats led 63-52 after shooting 56.5 percent in the first half.
- Michael Jordan, a part owner with the Bobcats, sat in the front row across from the Charlotte bench during the first half. Seated about 45 feet down the row were former Knicks rivals Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley. There were boos when Jordan was shown on the overhead video board coming out of a second-quarter timeout, but that turned into a standing ovation after a few seconds.
- Had Adam Morrison returned for his senior season at Gonzaga, he would have played at Madison Square Garden one day later. The Bulldogs face Duke here on Thursday night.
- Marbury reached 15,000 points.