PHOENIX (AP)—As the tension built, Allan Houston forgot he was in a slump.
“I didn’t care,” said Houston, who finished 8-of-22 from the field. “The one thing you focus on is doing whatever it takes to get the win. I was fortunate that I had a short memory tonight—except when I made the shots.”
Kurt Thomas had 24 points and 10 rebounds as New York, playing the first of six straight road games against Pacific Division teams, improved to 7-14 away from home.
It was the Knicks’ fourth win in Phoenix in six years and their first sweep of the home-and-home season series since 1998-99.
“I thought our guys did a good job of putting bodies on guys and blocking them out,” Knicks coach Don Chaney said. “When they’re that athletic, they’re moving without the ball and they’re getting a lot of offensive rebounds.”
Thomas’ jumper gave the Knicks a 114-109 lead with 1:43 left, but Marbury scored four straight points to pull Phoenix within one.
Houston banked in a 6-footer with 9.5 seconds to play before Shawn Marion made two free throws to cut the lead to one again.
After Thomas missed two foul shots with 7 seconds to go, the Suns had a chance to win it. Marbury drove on the right side, but his shot never even hit the rim.
“I thought that shot was going to go in,” said Marbury, who tied his season high for points and had nine assists. “If I had to take it again, I’d take it again. A hundred times.”
Marbury scored 12 points in the final 4:21. Marion added 26 points and Amare Stoudemire had 25 points and 14 rebounds.
“When you shoot 53 percent, 80 percent from the line, get to the line 41 times and score 115 points, you’d think you win,” coach Frank Johnson said. “But we didn’t.”
“We have to do a better job defensively like we did in the second half,” Sprewell said. “But when we have multiple guys putting the ball in the hole and sharing it the way we did tonight, it makes the game a lot easier.”
New York’s six-game road swing—its longest in six years—could rekindle or extinguish the Knicks’ playoff hopes.
New York began the fourth period ahead by six, but two 3-pointers by Ward sent the Knicks to a 105-95 lead with 7:00 to play.
The Knicks got no further ahead, but never lost the lead. Marbury cut the Suns’ deficit to 110-109 with a baseline runner with 2:41 remaining, but Houston answered with an 18-footer 17 seconds later.
Sprewell spent the last 5:12 of Wednesday’s loss to Golden State on the bench after going 5-for-18 for 12 points.
But he began this one by hitting two 3-pointers in the first 1:14, then stole a pass that led to two free throws by Houston that sent the Knicks to a 19-11 lead with 6:26 left in the first quarter.
Marbury had just four points at that point, but scored 17 during a sustained run that carried Phoenix to a 55-45 lead with 5:35 left in the second.
In the final 3:00, Weatherspoon scored five points and Thomas six as New York got to 67-63 at halftime.
The run proved to be pivotal.
The Knicks caught up at 74 on two free throws by Harrington with 7:52 left in the third quarter and went ahead on a turnaround by Thomas 47 seconds later.
Marion lost the ball to Sprewell on a spin, and the embattled Knicks star converted a three-point play as part of a 15-2 run that gave the Knicks an 84-76 lead with 4:57 to go in the third.
Sprewell made a 3-pointer, and the Knicks lead grew to 89-79 on a layup by Harrington with 3:23 to go.
Marbury had three baskets before the period ended, leaving the Knicks with a96-90 lead.
The Knicks’ 13 3-pointers were a season high for a Phoenix opponent. … Houston had another good game despite a wrap on his hyperextended right wrist. He had 32 points Wednesday in a 113-107 loss to Golden State. … New York is 3-14 when its opponent scores 100 points. … The Knicks will be on the road when the trade deadline arrives Thursday. Sprewell and Thomas are two starters considered to be trade bait in GM Scott Layden’s pursuit of a rugged,young inside player.