The return of their star point guard wasn’t enough to lift the New York Knicks to a win over Philadelphia on Friday.
Now, Stephon Marbury will look to help the Knicks earn a split of their home-and-home series with the 76ers when the teams meet Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
Marbury missed Wednesday’s 100-93 win over New Jersey after his father died on Sunday, and was accompanied by his teammates to the funeral on Thursday. Marbury decided to return to the lineup on Friday, but played only 13 minutes and voluntarily removed himself from the 101-90 loss at halftime.
Marbury said he barely slept the last five days and watched the second half from the bench in a warmup jacket, head in hand.
“I couldn’t get into the physical aspects of playing the game,” said Marbury, who scored two points. “I’m emotionally drained. It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done. This is something that you can’t prepare yourself for.”
Marbury said that playing was the best tribute he could think of for his father, who was taken from Madison Square Garden to a hospital during halftime of the Knicks’ loss to Phoenix on Sunday night. Donald Marbury died of a heart problem before the game ended.
“My whole basketball career has been a tribute to my father,” Marbury said. “When I made it to the NBA, we all made it to the NBA. We all were pushing.”
This is the first game for Marbury since the funeral at the Garden, where he’s been booed often this season.
The Knicks (6-12) suffered their sixth straight defeat in Philadelphia. New York has dropped two of its last three against the Sixers (6-13) in New York following a six-game winning streak there.
Philadelphia, however, is just 2-6 on the road this season. The Sixers are in last place in the Atlantic Division, just a half-game behind the Knicks.
“It’s disappointing on our end,” said David Lee, who had 16 points and 11 rebounds. “We needed this win tonight. We play them again tomorrow and we need to get one tomorrow.”
Lee started on Wednesday, but was back in a reserve role on Friday with the return of Eddy Curry, who missed the Nets game with a sprained left ankle. Curry scored 12 points in 25 minutes.
Jamal Crawford had 28 points and scored New York’s first 16 points in the fourth, but Philadelphia was able to hang on for the win.
“Any time you win and you feel like you’ve played fairly well, it’s a good feeling,” said Kyle Korver, who scored nine points. “We could use a couple of good feelings right now. We didn’t have a stretch where we didn’t play hard or well.”
Samuel Dalembert scored 20 points while Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala each added 15 for the Sixers, who ended a three-game losing streak. Coach Maurice Cheeks used a deeper lineup, which included Williams and rookie Thaddeus Young and not Iguodala or Andre Miller in the fourth, to help Philadelphia earn the win.
“A win tomorrow would do it for us,” Dalembert said. “Then I would be happy.”