Knicks 111, SuperSonics 93

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SEATTLE (AP)—Eddy Curry’s humble apology was the catalyst for a nearly perfect performance by the bulky New York center.

After getting benched following an early technical foul, Curry responded by making all nine of his shots, bullying Seattle’s frontcourt for 27 points and leading the Knicks to a 111-93 rout of the SuperSonics on Friday night.

Curry picked up his technical for arguing with referee Bob Delaney less than 3 minutes in. After a couple of minutes to cool off on the bench, Curry apologized to Delaney, then proceeded to score 15 points in the final 5 minutes of the first quarter.

“I apologized to him, he accepted my apology and I just got onto a roll,” Curry said.

He wasn’t alone, with Stephon Marbury scoring 28 points and Jamal Crawford adding 22. The Knicks were chuckling about this one by halftime and laughing hysterically in the final minutes as fans in the emptying arena chanted “We want Jerome!” for New York’s Jerome James, a former Sonic.

Coach Isiah Thomas looked down the bench to see if James wanted to enter, but he was content to watch. The Knicks never trailed against Seattle and won the final two games of their five-game West Coast road swing.

“We’re starting to play good basketball. I like the way we’re defending. I like the way we’re rebounding,” Thomas said. “I like our attitude and our approach.”

Playing in his hometown, Crawford took 26 shots to get his points, but scored 17 in the first half. Last season in Seattle, Crawford scored all 31 of his points in the second half of a Knicks victory.

New York didn’t need such heroics on Friday, not with Seattle unable to slow Curry or keep the Knicks—the NBA’s top rebounding team—off the boards. Curry was 7-for-7 shooting in the first half, with his only miscues a pair of missed free throws. Curry shot over the shorter Danny Fortson or simply used his girth to bully skinnier Johan Petro and Nick Collison for easy baskets in the lane.

“There just wasn’t enough bodies,” Seattle coach Bob Hill said.

Curry made both of his shots in the second half, and added six rebounds. He also scored 27 points in the Knicks’ win at Portland on Wednesday night.

“I’m just trying to go out there and attack right away,” Curry said. “Try to go at them right away so they know they’re going to have a problem the whole game.”

When Seattle sent an extra defender to help on the inside, Curry showed improved passing out of the double teams. Crawford and Marbury knocked down perimeter jumpers, combining for seven 3-pointers in the first half.

Marbury’s consecutive 3-pointers at the end of the third and start of the fourth gave the Knicks a 26-point lead. Marbury shot 9-of-17, hitting five 3-pointers. David Lee added 10 points and 10 rebounds off the bench as New York outrebounded Seattle 41-34.

But Thomas was more impressed with Marbury’s defense. Thomas put Marbury on Seattle’s Ray Allen, and Marbury was part of a constant double-team every time the All-Star touched the ball, forcing someone else to hit shots.

“Marbury was great on defense. It was one of the best defensive games I’ve ever seen him play,” Thomas said. “He went out and guarded him and played extremely hard and then he had a good offensive game going, too.”

Allen finished with 11 points, shooting just 3-of-10, but no one took the scoring load for the slumping Sonics. The loudest cheers from the near-sellout crowd were reserved for a 5-year-old breakdancer who took the floor in the fourth quarter.

“You’ve got to step up and knock down a couple of shots and make them pay for doubling,” Allen said.

Chris Wilcox led Seattle with 13 points. Damien Wilkins added 12 but shot only 4-of-16. Seattle lost its third straight and has dropped 11 of 14 overall. Reserve guard Earl Watson scored 12.

Seattle went 2-of-14 on 3-pointers.

Notes

The Knicks’ 36 first-quarter points and 68 first-half points were both season highs. … Seattle signed F Andre Brown to a 10-day contract. Brown leads the NBA Developmental League in scoring at 22.8 points and is second in rebounding at 10.8 playing for Sioux Falls. … Knicks F Quentin Richardson missed his 11th straight game with back spasms.

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Friday, Jan 5