Knicks 86, 76ers 75

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)—A quick turnaround is just what the New York Knicks needed to put a disappointing loss behind them.

Stephon Marbury had 20 points and 12 assists to lift the New York Knicks to a 86-75 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.

The win, which helped solidify the Knicks’ playoff positioning, was a huge lift after a 25-point loss to the New Jersey Nets on Friday.

“We were embarrassed (Friday),” Knicks coach Lenny Wilkens said. “And the way you get it back is to come out the next night and show everyone we can play the defense we talk about.”

Kurt Thomas scored 15 points on 7-for-9 shooting and had 14 rebounds for New York, which moved a half-game ahead of idle Boston for seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Former Sixer Nazr Mohammed added 16 points.

“We’re making a push,” Marbury said. “From where we were (10th in the conference on Jan. 5) to where we are now, we’ve made big strides. Our mind-set and our disposition as a unit is togetherness.”

The Knicks made five of 10 3-pointers to bounce back from the previous night’s 2-for-13 effort. They also registered 25 assists on their 31 field goals. Marbury had nine assists in the first half after recording none in the first two quarters against the Nets.

But, as Wilkens noted, the biggest turnaround was on defense.

New York had allowed four of its last five opponents to score over 100 points. On Saturday, the Knicks held the Sixers to 37.5 percent shooting and just 1-for-10 from beyond the arc.

“We wanted to come out and be aggressive,” Thomas said. “We wanted to contest every shot and just rebound the ball.”

Samuel Dalembert scored 13 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, his fifth double-double in his last six games, for the Sixers, who have lost two straight. Dalembert also set a career high with nine blocked shots.

Dalembert fell one block short of the Sixers’ franchise record and his first career triple-double.

”(Dalembert) has gotten a lot better during this season,” Sixers guard Eric Snow said. “He has a lot of room to improve, but he’s going to be someone to reckon with next year and in the years to come.”

Mohammed had six points during a 13-4 run late in the second quarter that put the Knicks ahead by 16. Mohammed closed the half with a short jumper to make it 52-38.

The Sixers pulled within seven midway through the fourth quarter, but Mohammed made a layup and Marbury nailed a 3 to extend the lead to 12.

Philadelphia cut the lead to eight with 2:28 remaining, but Tim Thomas sank two free throws and Marbury made a 3 to seal the victory.

“I think (bouncing back from the loss to the Nets) shows character. We were all talking about it,” Wilkens said. “How were we going to come out tonight? If we’ve got any character, then we’d come out and try to redeem ourselves and play better.”

Tim Thomas went 9-for-10 from the line for 15 points.

Rookie Willie Green had a team-high 14 points for Philadelphia. Snow and Kenny Thomas each scored 13.

Philadelphia led 4-2 before handing over the lead for good. They shot just 35 percent in the first half and now trail Boston by 3 1/2 games with five games remaining.

“That was a crucial game,” Dalembert said. “We had it and we let it slipback. We have to think forward now.” ^Notes: The Knicks activated C Dikembe Mutombo and placed F Othella Harrington on the injured list prior to the game. Mutombo had missed 14 games following abdominal surgery. The former Sixer did not see action Saturday. … The Knicks snapped a three-game road losing streak … Philadelphia is 4-3 since losing All-Star Allen Iverson for the remainder of the season. … Dalembert isaveraging 15.5 rebounds and 3.8 blocks in his last six games.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 New York
S. Marbury S. Marbury
7-17,  20 Pts
3 Rebs, 12 Assists
 Philadelphia
K. Thomas K. Thomas
4-15,  13 Pts
13 Rebs, 3 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists