Though his war of words with Stephon Marbury may be over, Larry Brown might be wishing he was back on the opposing bench when the Detroit Pistons visit Madison Square Garden to face the New York Knicks.
While coaching Detroit the previous two seasons, Brown never was involved in the kind of feud he’s had this week with Marbury. Brown certainly never had the same problems winning games.
As the Pistons have already clinched a playoff berth and own the league’s best record, the Knicks are tied with Charlotte for the fewest wins in the NBA (18).
The verbal sparring between Marbury and Brown, though, may be slowing down. The two had a meeting Thursday and Brown told Marbury he wanted the point guard to return next season.
“I told him I just wanted him to let us coach him the rest of the year and he’s not going anywhere and let’s move on,” Brown said. “Let’s deal in the present and not in the past.”
Though he prefers a quicker pace, Marbury says he has tried to play Brown’s way and he’ll continue to do so. Marbury, however, does not sound completely convinced the relationship has been fully repaired.
“I’m down for what’s right,” Marbury said. “Like I said, I was committed and I’m still committed to the organization, to doing exactly what he’s been asking.
“He told me to play the way he wants me to play and if I don’t feel like it’s the right way just bare with it. And I didn’t say yes and I didn’t say no.”
Possibly Brown’s biggest frustration has been his inability to Marbury and many of the Knicks to play the right way on defense. After the Knicks gave up 34 points in the third quarter Wednesday against Atlanta, Brown benched Marbury and all of his other starters.
New York’s reserves went on to lead the team to a 121-117 double-overtime victory. The Knicks’ bench outscored Atlanta’s reserves 77-17.
“This is a team game,” Brown said. “I want guys who play hard, try to defend, share the ball and make their teammates better.”
Marbury has failed to approach the success fellow point guard Chauncey Billups achieved under Brown, and Billups has developed into an MVP candidate this season.
Billups had 26 points and 10 assists in Detroit’s 105-98 road win over Toronto on Wednesday.
That win also saw the Pistons’ bench make a big contribution, led by Antonio McDyess’ 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting.
“Dice (McDyess) was huge … he was huge,” Billups said. “He’s always capable of that.”
“We wanted to try to start establishing our bench more,” Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. “So basically we’re playing three guys and giving those guys a little bit more minutes.”
The Pistons need 13 wins in their final 19 games to break the franchise record of 63, set in 1988-89 when they won they won their first championship.