Knicks 100, Timberwolves 87

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NEW YORK (AP)—One thought has been circling inside Stephon Marbury’s head in the days since he received a pep talk from team president Isiah Thomas.

“Be aggressive,” Marbury said.

Aggression was exactly what Marbury displayed down the stretch Wednesday night, taking over late in the fourth quarter and finishing with 32 points and 11 assists to lead the New York Knicks past the Minnesota Timberwolves 100-87.

Marbury scored 15 of his points in the final quarter, including a personal 9-2 run that gave New York a 94-85 lead with 1:46 remaining.

“My talk with Isiah definitely set things off,” Marbury said. “I’m not saying I’m going to go out and score 30 or 40 points every game, I’m just going to be aggressive at both ends of the court.”

Coming off a 34-point performance in a victory over Orlando, Marbury shot 12-for-19 from the field and 7-for-7 from the foul line with seven rebounds as the Knicks won their third in a row and moved three games above .500 for the first time since the end of the 2000-01 season.

The pep talk Marbury received was mainly focused on his commitment to defense, but Thomas also challenged Marbury to make more things happen on offense—especially with second-leading scorer Jamal Crawford sidelined for at least two weeks by turf toe.

“His thing is: Don’t take your hand off the wheel when you’re driving the car,” Marbury said.

Nazr Mohammed added 19 points, and Kurt Thomas had a strong defensive effort in limiting Kevin Garnett to 17 points—more than six below his average. Garnett also had 13 rebounds and eight assists, while Latrell Sprewell scored 22 and Sam Cassell 20 for the Timberwolves.

Minnesota has lost five straight road games, its longest such skid since March 2001.

“We have a mindset that we’re a good team, and I just think everybody tries to go out and do it themselves instead of consolidating to everybody else,” Garnett said. “We’ve got to get on the same page, but we’ll be all right.”

Michael Sweetney broke the game’s final tie by hitting a 14-footer for an 85-83 lead with 3:56 left. Marbury took over from there, making two free throws, penetrating for a three-point play, hitting a jumper over defensive specialist Trenton Hassell, then making two more from the line to give New York a nine-point lead.

The Knicks led for most of the game, going ahead by 13 in the second quarter before Minnesota slowly chipped away at the deficit. A 3-pointer by Cassell gave Minnesota a 78-77 lead with 6:21 left, and another 3 by Cassell put the Timberwolves ahead 83-81 before the Knicks responded with a 13-2 spurt and held Minnesota without a field goal for more than 4 1/2 minutes.

“We exerted so much energy to get back in the game, and then Steph just got aggressive,” Wolves coach Flip Saunders said. “We have to get more defensive consistency from beginning to end. We’re having a difficult time getting that consistency.”


Wolves G Troy Hudson did not play for the first time this season and is unhappy with his demotion behind Anthony Carter as the backup point guard. “We just feel at this point I’m not being used, and I’m not being put in a position to succeed and help the team succeed. It’s frustrating when you can’t do either,” Hudson said. … Knicks G Allan Houston missed his first seven shots and finished 2-for-11 with seven points. … Wolves F Wally Szczerbiak has made his last 39 free throws.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
K. Garnett K. Garnett
7-17,  17 Pts
13 Rebs, 8 Assists
 New York
S. Marbury S. Marbury
12-19,  32 Pts
7 Rebs, 11 Assists

Team Stat Leaders