The New York Knicks defeated Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv 112-85 on Thursday night in a charity exhibition at Madison Square Garden in New York. Maccabi took a big early lead, but with three starters from last season out injured – All-Euroleague center Nikola Vujcic, swingman Tal Burstein and guard Will Bynum – and playing a longer game by NBA rules, Maccabi ran out of gas by the second half. Jamal Crawford led the Knicks with 16 points, Zach Randolph added 15 and Fred Jones and David Lee posted 14 apiece. Vonteego Cummings had a game-high 21 for Maccabi, Marcus Fizer posted 18 points and 11 rebounds, Terence Morris scored 12 and Lior Eliyahu 10 for the Israeli champs. Maccabi's biggest problem was self-inflicted as it committed 24 turnovers – 13 more than its opponents. Maccabi lead 3-12 and then 10-20 in the opening quarter, but the Knicks cut the lead to 20-25 at the end of the first period. New York used a 9-0 run early in the second period to take the lead for good. Maccabi trailed only 53-43 at halftime, but Crawford keyed another 9-0 run as the Knicks continued to pull away for the win.
The Knicks won the opening tip, but Quentin Richardson missed the game's first shot. At the other end, Maccabi went to Fizer, whose mid-range jumper marked the first points of the evening. Stephon Marbury got the hosts on the scoreboard with a pair of free throws, but Omri Casspi answered inside to make it 2-6. Maccabi was then tripped up by a rules snafu when the team was called for a three seconds violation - a rule that does not exist in European basketball - however the Israeli champs did not dwell on the problem. Fizer stepped up, first setting up Terence Morris inside and then scoring on his own for a 3-12 Maccabi lead. Marbury's layup after five minutes of action was the Knicks' first field goal. But just when it looked like the momentum had turned in the Knicks' favor, Eliyahu droved for a left-handed layup and Cummings added a three for a 10-20 Maccabi lead. Mardy Collins came off the bench to spark the New York offense and helped close the gap to 17-22. Derrick Sharp free throws and a Nate Robinson tip-in made it 20-25 at the end of the opening period.
A goal-tending call against Terence Morris gifted Collins the first points of the second period and a minute later Robinson fed Collins again to make it a 1-point game. Robinson followed that with a three to give New York its first lead, 27-25. Jared Jeffries made it 9 unanswered points, however Sharp answered from downtown after a Maccabi timeout to keep it close. Casspi showed his range with a three, but then fouled Jones at the other end. David Bluthenthal and Randolph traded buckets, but a Crawford triple was soon followed by a
transition basket that increased New York's lead to 51-40. Bluthenthal came back and drilled a three, but Marbury had the last word as his jumper made it 53-43 at halftime.
A Fizer slam got Maccabi going in the second half, but Crawford remained in the zone for New York, scoring and then dishing to Marbury in a 9-0 run that put the hosts up 62-45. Turnovers continued to be Maccabi's Achilles' heel, as bad passes and traveling calls allowed he Knicks to remain comfortably ahead. A Marbury jumper followed by a Randoph basket made it 68-49. Casspi and Terence Morris showed signs of life for Maccabi, but Randolph was in control of the paint and seemed to score at will for New York. Lee scored 7 straight for the hosts, including a three-point play that put his team up 20. Yotam Halperin made some free throws and then set up Eliyahu for a slam as the visitors got within 83-67 as the third quarter ended.
Robinson started the fourth quarter with a three and Jones got involved with two baskets as the Knicks raced to a 93-67 lead. New York continued to bring in fresh bodies against the tired Maccabi players as a Jeffries slam put the hosts ahead 100-69. Garbage time ensued, as the lead peaked at 35 before things settled down leaving New York with a 112-85 victory.