The New York Knicks have already had a tough enough time trying to sustain momentum for a playoff run. Now they may have to make up ground without their best player.
Marbury played just 11 minutes of Friday’s 99-94 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves due to a right big toe injury, and will be a gametime decision for this contest. Marbury, who did return to the court in the final minute, went 2-for-7 from the field and finished with six points.
His injury could not have come at a worse time for the Knicks (31-44), who are three games behind the Orlando Magic for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East with seven remaining.
The Knicks also hurt themselves late in Friday’s game after nearly rallying from an 18-point deficit, by not boxing out on a missed free throw that led to the Timberwolves sealing the victory.
“All season long, we fight and we battle, but little things we need to do to complete a play, we don’t do the little things,” Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. “In a close game it’s the little things that hurt you, it’s the little things that kill you. It’s not the big monumental things.”
With Marbury hurting, Nate Robinson shouldered most of the offensive load and scored 21 points. The 5-foot-9 guard has reached double figures in seven of his last 10 games, averaging 14.1 points in that span while shooting 44.6 percent (25-for-56) from 3-point range.
The Knicks did get back a healthy body in forward David Lee, who had six points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench after missing the previous six games with a sore right leg. Lee, who has played just 56 minutes since Feb. 20, is averaging 11.0 points and 10.6 rebounds in his second NBA season.
The Bucks (26-49) are no strangers to injury woes, having played the last two games with the NBA-minimum nine active players. Earl Boykins matched a career high with 36 points in Friday’s 115-102 loss at Atlanta, Milwaukee’s eighth defeat in the past nine games.
Fellow backup guard Charlie Bell added 28 points for the Bucks, whose preseason projected starting five of Michael Redd, Mo Williams, Andrew Bogut, Bobby Simmons and Charlie Villaneuva all were out due to injury. Only Redd and Williams may return in the coming days.
“We had a lot of fatigue kicking in, considering this is our third game in four nights,” said Bucks forward Ruben Patterson. “We just have to keep working hard.”
The 5-foot-5 Boykins - the league’s shortest player - has made the most of his extended playing time the last two games. He has averaged 34.0 points and 7.0 assists with only one turnover while shooting 23-for-35 from the field, including 8-for-13 from 3-point range.
The home team has won all three meetings in the season series.