Knicks 92, Pistons 88
Marbury made a clutch 3-pointer with 40 seconds left and the Knicks— revamped again following the trade of Keith Van Horn and Michael Doleac—sent Detroit to its sixth consecutive loss, 92-88 Tuesday night.
Marbury finished with 28 points, nine assists and five steals, and the Knicks outscored the Pistons 15-6 in the final 2:21 to snap a two-game losing streak.
“Not knowing the plays and not knowing the system limited my time, but it felt good to be out there with the guys—and on top of it we started something fresh and new. We got a nice win tonight and hopefully it will continue,” Thomas said.
New York was again without Allan Houston, whose sore knee kept him on the injured list after he was expected to return after the All-Star break. It was his 14th missed game this season.
Houston’s agent, Bill Strickland, also represents Rasheed Wallace, who was dealt from Portland to Atlanta last week.
“Yes, he wants to come here. And yes, he’s hoping to get traded again before Thursday,” Strickland said.
It’s unlikely, however, that Knicks president Isiah Thomas can swing a deal for Wallace after having already traded nearly all of his players with expiring contracts—the commodity that Atlanta would want in return.
Tim Thomas, acquired from the Bucks on Sunday in a five-player, three-team trade, played just nine minutes and sat out the entire second half. He had two points, four rebounds and two turnovers.
Despite the loss of two strong outside shooters, the Knicks got clutch jumpers when they needed them from Marbury and Hardaway.
“You feel appreciated because Isiah wanted you to come in here,” Hardaway said. “I know I do, I owe him everything because he’s kind of turned my career around by bringing me in here. I can’t let him down by going out there and playing any other way but hard.”
Billups had 26 points for the Pistons, who will try to avoid their first seven-game losing streak since last season when they open a three-game homestand Wednesday night against Milwaukee.
What hurt them in this loss was their inability to stop the Knicks down the stretch. New York scored on its final seven possessions.
With 3 seconds on the shot clock and 1:08 remaining, Billups was called for fouling Marbury on a 3-point attempt—a call by referee James Capers that was vehemently disputed by Billups and coach Larry Brown. Marbury made all three shots to put New York ahead 85-82.
“He said I hit Steph on the arm, but I know. And I really know because I didn’t watch the replay (on the scoreboard) … and I heard the whole crowd say ‘Oooh,”’ Billups said.
After a pair of free throws by Billups, Marbury got free on the right wing and took a pass from Penny Hardaway for a 3-pointer that gave the Knicks an 88-84 lead.
“I knew he was going to throw it to me,” Marbury said. “He knows every one of my moves and I know every one of his moves.”
Two free throws apiece by Hardaway and Harrington kept the Pistons from having a shot to win it.
Detroit didn’t lead in the second half until Marbury threw a bad pass that turned into a breakaway dunk by Corliss Williamson for a 74-73 lead with 6:15 remaining.
A steal by Williamson and a breakaway layup by Billups put Detroit ahead 78-73, completing a 9-0 run, and the Pistons stayed in front until Hardaway hita 3-pointer off an assist from Marbury to make it 82-82 with 1:47 remaining.
Detroit’s Richard Hamilton shot just 3-for-20. … It’s unknown when Houston might return. Shandon Anderson started in his place, and Hardaway was the starter at small forward. … Darvin Ham started at small forward for Detroit over Tayshaun Prince for the second straight game. “The only reason is it was (listed that way) in the program, and that’s the God’s honest truth,” coach Larry Brown said. Prince shot 1-for-6 in 29 minutes. … Nice hands: When Marbury whipped a behind-the-back pass out of bounds, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar— sitting near midcourt on celebrity row, deftly plucked it out of the air. …Kurt Thomas has made 24 consecutive free throws.