Crawford scored a season-high 43 points, leading New York to a 103-99 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night in the opener of a home-and-home series.
The Knicks lost 124-84 on Wednesday in Philadelphia, their second loss by 40 or more points this season. They began Friday's game by managing only 12 points in the first 14-plus minutes and falling behind by as many as 14.
Then Crawford, one of the NBA's streakiest shooters, got into a zone from outside -- one Toronto has seen before. Crawford had a 50-point game against the Raptors on April 11, 2004, while playing for Chicago.
"I didn't want to let the game get away from us," Crawford said. "In Philadelphia it got away from us and we weren't able to recover."
Zach Randolph added 26 points and 15 rebounds, and made a layup with the Knicks clinging to a two-point lead with 40 seconds remaining. He missed two free throws seconds later, and Toronto cut it back to two on Anthony Parker's follow with 4.9 seconds left.
But Nate Robinson made four free throws from there to help New York hold on. That gave the Knicks three wins in five games, practically a hot streak for a team that is 17-38 -- though one that coach Isiah Thomas said was "headed in the right direction" before the game.
"I don't think you can look at their record and say, 'Oh, it's a bad team,'" Parker said. "I think they've shown they can go into D.C. and get a win. They are capable of going into Philly and getting beat pretty badly. They've got a lot of talent and a lot of options. I think they played well tonight."
Crawford finished 15-of-29 from the field and made six 3-pointers. The teams meet again Sunday night in Toronto, so the Raptors don't have long to come up with a plan for Crawford.
"With Jamal making shots like that, it's just tough. It's hard to overcome 43 points by one guy," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "Once they took the lead, we just didn't come up with the plays when we needed to."
Chris Bosh scored 23 points for the Raptors, who had won two in a row. Carlos Delfino added 11 of his 18 in the fourth, nearly helping Toronto overcome a 10-point deficit. Parker also had 18 and Jamario Moon 16.
The Knicks shot 5-of-21 in the first quarter and trailed 21-12, their worst opening period of the season. They followed with a season-best 40 in the second, fueled by Crawford's 21, and cut it to 53-52 at halftime when Randolph beat the buzzer from just inside midcourt.
"I thought tonight because of the speed of the game in the first quarter we got off to a slow start," Thomas said. "But then Jamal caught fire, and he and Zach offensively, they were able to carry us."
Crawford's floater with 0.2 seconds remaining in the third quarter sent the Knicks to the final period with an 81-75 lead.
- Even though the Knicks were rumored in a number of deals, Thomas said they only had one serious conversation with one team on trade deadline day. He didn't identify the players or team involved, but said he didn't want to make a bad deal that would set the team further back. "We didn't try to save the day with that one savior bad contract that goes on for a lifetime," Thomas said.
- Toronto's T.J. Ford was scoreless in 11 minutes after missing the previous two games with a sprained wrist and abdominal strain.
- After being dealt from the Pistons to Raptors on Thursday, center Primoz Brezec drove from Detroit to Toronto, took a physical Friday morning, then caught a flight to New York so he could join the team. However, he was inactive.