On Monday, they’ll try to win a game with Marbury for the first time since November when they host the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden.
New York (7-16) had dropped five straight - the last four of which came without Marbury - before a 94-86 victory over New Jersey on Saturday. The point guard has missed five of the last seven games since his father died after experiencing chest pains at the Garden during the Knicks’ loss to Phoenix Dec. 2.
Marbury returned to practice Sunday and said it had been difficult to return to the arena. But he expects to play Monday.
“Eventually I was going to have to get back into it,” he said. “So I knew that I was going to have to start working out and getting myself back into it mentally and emotionally.”
The Knicks have not won a game with Marbury in the lineup since Nov. 30 against Milwaukee. He had 13 points that night, and is averaging just 13.4 this season - more than six below his career norm.
It was an especially important performance for Curry, who had averaged just 8.4 points in his previous nine games and had been held scoreless while playing only 13 minutes in the Knicks’ previous contest, a 101-96 loss at Chicago.
“I was mad at myself,” Curry said. “I felt like I was letting my team down every time we lost. I’d look at the box score and just the way that I felt after the game, I felt like I could have did more and if I could have just did a little bit, we could probably have won some games.”
The win also snapped a four-game home losing streak for the Knicks, whose fans have been repeatedly calling for Thomas’ job. Even at the end of Saturday’s game, they chanted “Fire Isiah.”
That’s just what Indiana (12-12) did after the 2002-03 season, Thomas’ third in a stint coaching there. Jim O’Brien now coaches the Pacers, who continue to hover at the .500 mark after alternating wins with losses in their last nine games, including a 106-103 victory Saturday at Miami.
A win over the Knicks would give the Pacers their first consecutive victories since Nov. 27-28.
Jermaine O’Neal had 24 points for Indiana on Saturday while point guard Jamaal Tinsley added 26. Tinsley is averaging a career-best 15.4 points, but more impressively is dishing out 8.6 assists per game - 1.6 above his career mark.
Saturday’s game was the fourth in five nights for the Pacers, who have won six of their last eight games away from Indianapolis to improve to 7-5 on the road this season.
“It showed some character for our team to go what we went through and still get the win in a tough environment,” O’Neal said.
This is the first meeting of 2007-08 between these teams. Indiana took two of three games in the series last season including a 109-95 victory Nov. 4, 2006, in its last visit to Madison Square Garden.