Knicks 88, 76ers 77
“He just screamed for the ball,” Marbury said after his no-look pass led to a resounding dunk by Thomas as the New York Knicks pulled away in the fourth quarter and defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 88-77 Wednesday night.
Thomas’ dunk came during an 8-0 run midway through the final period as New York snapped a six-game losing streak.
Marbury scored the other six points during the run, finishing with 36 points and 10 assists, and Thomas had 16 points and 12 rebounds in his best home game since being acquired from Milwaukee 2 1/2 weeks earlier.
“I knew it was going to take some time as far as chemistry,” Thomas said.
The performances by Marbury and Thomas helped the Knicks overcome a poor night by Allan Houston, who shot 2-for-13 in his second game back after missing 13 in a row because of a sore knee.
Even worse than Houston was Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson, who returned after a four-game absence due to a bruised shoulder and shot 2-for-21.
“I can’t remember the last time I was struggling like that, not just missing shots but missing layups,” Iverson said. “Even guys on the other team were asking me if I was all right. I couldn’t understand it.”
The loss was the 17th in 23 games for the 76ers, and it was especially painful for Iverson. The Knicks repeatedly knocked him around, and on three occasions in the first half he got up holding different parts of his body.
“They had three cheap shots on me, and the last one I took really bothered me. I was all right until then,” Iverson said.
Fans in New York have grown restless regarding the Knicks during their recent slump, and there was a palpable sense of dread in the arena as Philadelphia opened the fourth quarter with an 11-2 run to pull to 68-65.
Marbury ended a nearly four-minute scoring drought with a driving layup through traffic and a pull-up 3-pointer for a 73-65 lead.
The Knicks then pushed the ball upcourt quickly following a turnover, and Marbury drew two defenders as he received the ball near the foul line. Spotting Thomas cutting to the basket from his right, Marbury flipped a pass to Thomas for a high-flying one-handed jam over Samuel Dalembert that turned into a three-point play.
“That one surprised me,” Marbury said. “All it takes is time. Once you play with someone you get the feel of where they want the ball. The more and more we play together, the better we’re going to get.”
A pull-up jumper by Marbury with 5:59 left completed the 8-0 run, and Philadelphia did not threaten the rest of the way.
Kenny Thomas led the 76ers with 21 points. Dalembert had 19 points and 14rebounds.
New York placed Dikembe Mutombo on the injured list after he underwent minor surgery on his lower abdominal area. Nazr Mohammed, already installed as the starter by coach Lenny Wilkens before Mutombo went on the IL, had 12 points and 15 rebounds. … Sixers F Glenn Robinson returned after missing two games with a sore elbow and scored 10 points. … Kurt Thomas’s contract extension was not completed as expected Wednesday. … The Knicks have hired NBA career scoring leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, team president Isiah Thomas said. Abdul-Jabbar’s first assignment was scouting the Pacers-Clippers game in LosAngeles on Wednesday night.