Knicks 108, Raptors 101
With three key players out with injuries, Stephon Marbury had 38 points and nine assists to lead the Knicks to a 108-101 win over the Raptors, who used only seven players.
Tim Thomas and Penny Hardaway did not play because of groin injuries, and Allan Houston (bruised quadriceps) played just eight minutes. Reserves DerMarr Johnson and Michael Sweetney made big contributions, with Johnson producing 15 points and seven rebounds.
“We need everybody to step up,” said Houston, who won’t play Saturday night at Detroit. “(Marbury) could have 38 and we could have still lost the game.
“Those 38 points were big, but I think what was even bigger was guys like DerMarr coming in and playing good defense and Sweet doing the little things.”
Sweetney, a rookie forward, hit a pair of free throws, stole a loose ball from Vince Carter and dunked to put New York up 80-79 in the fourth quarter, and the Knicks never trailed again. Sweetney finished with eight points and nine rebounds.
“They know how to play. All they needed was playing time,” Marbury said, praising Johnson and Sweetney. “We needed this game.”
The win clinched the season series for the Knicks, 3-1. New York is in seventh place in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference playoff race.
Carter scored 40 for Toronto and was, at times, unstoppable. His 10 points in the third quarter helped the Raptors to a 66-55 lead, and the forward nearly erased Sweetney’s contributions in the fourth quarter. Carter faked a pass, and the Knicks forward left him alone for a 3-pointer that cut New York’s lead to 91-86 with 3:28 left.
“I can care less about the points,” Carter said. “I was just trying to do what needed to be done to get the win. And it wasn’t enough. So maybe I needed to score 50.”
Marbury drove and was fouled and converted both, putting the Knicks up 93-86 with 2:37 left.
The Knicks hit 17 of 17 free throws in the fourth quarter—most after the Raptors were forced to foul—to hold Toronto off.
Marbury scored 26 points in the second half, and his three-point play with 1:28 left in the third quarter cut Toronto’s lead to four points and frustrated Raptors coach Kevin O’Neill into yelling. “This guys is … killing us.”
But the Raptors needed to worry about Johnson, too.
The Knicks reserve hit a 3-pointer just before the 24-second shot clock expired to start the fourth quarter, starting an 12-2 run that included Sweetney’s burst.
“We’re a deep team,” Johnson said. “Guys on the bench, we’re on the team too, every day. We know what’s going on. And when our time comes we’ve got to step in and take advantage.”
Houston started at shooting guard, but was replaced by Johnson with 4:12 to go in the first quarter and didn’t play again. The Knicks’ guard made one of two shots but looked disoriented on the court. Houston stayed on the bench with his left quadriceps wrapped in ice.
“With Allan coming out tonight, it showed a lot of heart,” Marbury said. “It gave us a big boost.”
But so did his replacement. Johnson helped the Knicks cut their 29-19 deficit with a 3-pointer in the first quarter, then spun away from two defenders in the lane and put New York up 49-47 with 1:41 left in the second.
“Those are the seven guys I wanted to play in the game,” said Toronto coach Kevin O’Neill, who handed out five DNP-CDs. “I thought we needed to tryand ride those guys as long as we could.”
: Toronto tied a team record by hitting nine 3-pointers in the first half, and finished 13-for-28 from beyond the arc. … Before the game, Knicks coach Lenny Wilkens was visited by a group of high school teammates that included former Los Angeles Dodger Tommy Davis, the National League batting champion in 1962 and 1963. The 1955 Boys High team won the New York City Championship, but Wilkens graduated early and wasn’t eligible to play. … Toronto wore its road red jerseys for the 11th time this season and lost forthe ninth time in the bright uniforms.