76ers 99, Knicks 94, 2OT

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Kenny Thomas needed less than a full second to hit the two clutch shots Philadelphia needed.

Thomas hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left in regulation, then made a tying layup with 0.2 seconds left in the first overtime to help the 76ers defeat New York 99-94 in double overtime Friday night.

“I’m just happy they went in and I helped my team win,” Thomas said. “I haven’t done it before and I may not do it again. These are the kind of games we need to gain ground.”

Thomas scored 25 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for his 10th straight double-double, helping the Sixers—again without Allen Iverson—win their season-high fourth straight game. Aaron McKie scored 22 points and Eric Snow added 19. Thomas also had a career-high seven blocks.

Snow scored five straight points on free throws in the second overtime to clinch a thrilling game.

Allan Houston had 25 points and Stephon Marbury 21 for the Knicks (29-37), who are now only one game ahead of the Sixers (28-38) in the Eastern Conference standings.

The teams combined to miss the last 11 shots of the game, but the ones made just before the buzzers—and a dunk`that came after a split-second too late— were the keys.

In the first overtime, the Knicks led by two when Thomas blocked Marbury’s jumper with 22 seconds left. On Philadelphia’s last possession, Snow drove the lane and tossed up an airball. Thomas, though, caught it and scored with 0.2 seconds left, making it 92-92.

Nazr Mohammed, who nearly ended regulation on a catch-and-shoot, caught an inbounds pass in the air and dunked at the buzzer, causing a premature celebration by the Knicks. But there was not enough time left for any basket to count (there must be at least 0.3 seconds for a player to catch and shoot), sending the game into double overtime.

It was an appropriate extension to what had been a wild conclusion of the fourth quarter, including Thomas’ bank of a 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left that tied it at 87.

The play was not designed for Thomas, but he got the ball when Snow failed to find another open perimeter shooter. Thomas could not remember ever hitting a buzzer-beater in his pro career.

“In college … I got a lot more touches in college,” he said, smiling.

Thomas has gotten a lot more touches lately with Iverson and Glenn Robinson out with injuries. Plus, interim coach Chris Ford gave Thomas more offensive responsibilities after taking over for Randy Ayers.

“It seemed like they were concentrating on me, and I’m not used to that. It was kind of awkward,” Thomas said. “I’m trying to be one of the elite players in this league. I’m going to keep on playing hard and try and get to that point.”

The Sixers trailed 16 early in the fourth before Thomas and McKie led a furious rally that tied the game at 81-all with 1:43 left.

Houston temporarily gave the Knicks the lead with a 19-footer, then added a couple of free throws that appeared to seal the win.

Kyle Korver, Philadelphia’s mop-topped long-range specialist, hit a 3 with 15.5 seconds left, pulling them within three. Marbury hit a couple of free throws to set up one last possession.

Thomas, who two possessions earlier forced a wild shot into double coverage, fired up his fifth 3-point attempt this season. It went in—his first 3 of the season—and the Wachovia Center crowd erupted.

The Knicks had one last desperation shot, but Mohammed’s catch-and-shoot hit the glass and rim and bounced off as Mohammed lay face down on the court.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Knicks coach Lenny Wilkens. “We had great opportunities and should have put it away. When you give a team chances like we did, you’re just flirting with disaster.”

The Sixers played their third straight game without Iverson, who was bothered by a swollen right knee. Iverson has missed 21 games this season and is listed as day-to-day. The 76ers are 9-12 without him.

Vin Baker made his Knicks debut signing earlier in the day. Baker, trying again to restart his career after alcohol-related interruptions, entered late in the first quarter and was on the court for the start of the fourth quarter.

Baker scored two points on 1-for-4 shooting in 14 minutes. It was his firstgame since Jan. 18 when he was with Boston.

Notes

The Knicks activated G Moochie Norris, and placed G Frank Williams and C Cezary Trybanski on the injured list. Norris missed five games with Achilles’ tendinitis. … Derrick Coleman and Marc Jackson were activated by Philadelphia. The Sixers placed Robinson and Amal McCaskill on the injured list. … Kurt Thomas had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Knicks. Tim Thomas left with an upset stomach after the first quarter and did not return. … The Sixers had a season-high 10 blocked shots and John Salmons added a career-high16 points.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 New York
S. Marbury S. Marbury
6-20,  21 Pts
4 Rebs, 9 Assists
 Philadelphia
K. Thomas K. Thomas
8-16,  25 Pts
16 Rebs, 1 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists