Knicks 99, Wizards 86

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WASHINGTON (AP)—Mike Sweetney’s homecoming was a rebounding success.

Playing in front of fans who cheered him through high school and college, the New York Knicks rookie grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds in a career-high 23 minutes in Sunday’s 99-86 victory over the Washington Wizards.

“Our young rookie boy, he just goes after the ball,” coach Lenny Wilkens said. “Sweetney had a terrific game. He’s relentless. He keeps going after it.”

Stephon Marbury had 24 points and 13 assists, and Allan Houston added 23 points as the Knicks won their third straight following a six-game losing streak.

The disparity in frontcourt production was huge.

The Wizards had no answer for Sweetney (seven offensive rebounds), Nazr Mohammed (15 points, seven rebounds) and Tim Thomas (18 points), while Washington’s Kwame Brown and Brendan Haywood combined for just 14 points and four free throw attempts.

Gilbert Arenas scored 28 points and Juan Dixon had 25 for the Wizards, who were actually starting to talk playoffs last week.

Those postseason thoughts have faded with losses to Boston and New York, leaving coach Eddie Jordan questioning his players’ effort.

“If one, two or three guys don’t bring it, then the team doesn’t bring it,” Jordan said, “because we’re all in it together. … We didn’t get it done in the effort department.”

Sweetney, from nearby Oxon Hill, Md., played his college ball at the MCI Center for Georgetown. He was back here for a Knicks-Wizards exhibition game in October, but this was the first time he could show off the agility he’s gained after losing 17 pounds since training camp.

“It was a great feeling to get back home and see my family and get the win,” said the No. 9 overall draft pick, who bought a modest 13 tickets for the game. “I just try to get out there and work hard and rebound and play good defense and run the floor.”

Washington’s only lead was 2-0, but the Knicks couldn’t start to feel comfortable until they scored on six straight possessions in a 12-0 run that gave them a 79-62 lead early in the fourth quarter. Marbury had six points and an assist during the run.

The Wizards cut the lead to nine with less than five minutes to play, but Marbury’s drive through the paint restored the double-digit lead for the rest of the game.

Arenas scored 12 points in the first quarter for the Wizards, and Dixon scored 11 in the second. But Washington was outrebounded 24-15 in the half,including 7-2 on the offensive boards.

Notes

New York guard Frank Williams was not with the team due to personal reasons, while forward Othella Harrington returned after missing one game due to personal reasons. … Marbury is averaging 31.6 points and 7.6 assists during the three-game winning streak. … Arenas is averaging 30.2 points in his last five games. … The Wizards fell to 1-15 against Atlantic Divisionopponents.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 New York
S. Marbury S. Marbury
11-22,  24 Pts
2 Rebs, 13 Assists
 Washington
J. Dixon J. Dixon
11-18,  25 Pts
3 Rebs, 4 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists