NEW YORK (AP) -- Kurt Thomas did more to further his All-Star
prospects than he did to justify his nickname.
The player known as "Crazy Eyes'' scored 28 points, grabbed a
season-high 17 rebounds and glared at the referees only once Sunday
as the Knicks opened a big lead and then held off the Phoenix Suns
"I thought he did a great job keeping his composure. That's the
demeanor he has to establish, and that's the kind of relationship
he should have with the referees,'' Knicks coach Don Chaney said.
"If the call is made, whether he thinks it's justified or not --
keep your mouth quiet and concentrate on the game. And I think
that's what he did today.''
Chaney and the rest of the Knicks have been frustrated by
Thomas' inability to keep himself out of foul trouble and his
propensity to cast a dirty look at the officials any time he feels
a questionable call is made against him.
Players who continually glare and complain never seem to get the
benefit of the doubt in the NBA -- a lesson that Thomas has
stubbornly refused to learn.
Sunday was different, however, with Thomas's only glare coming
when Dick Bavetta called a foul on Latrell Sprewell late in the
first quarter after Thomas had already collected 14 points and six
"I just wanted to know who he was calling it on,'' said Thomas,
who hopes to be chosen as a reserve center for the East when
All-Star reserves -- voted on by the 29 NBA coaches -- are announced
The 20-year-old phenom had just 3 points and six rebounds and
missed three of four free throws.
"They do a lot of pushing,'' Stoudemire said. "It shows
they're scared to play. I like a fair-and-square game. Don't push
and shove. I don't think it's right. Kurt Thomas does it more than
any other guy I've played against.''
Thomas started 7-for-10 as the Knicks got off to a great start,
making 14 of their first 19 shots. Thomas had 22 points and 10
rebounds by halftime, reaching the 20-10 mark on a turnaround
jumper with 2:20 left before halftime for a 59-40 lead.
Sprewell had 20 at the half as New York held a 64-48 lead, with
Scott Williams helping keep the Suns in the game by scoring 14 -- two shy of his season-high.
The Knicks opened the second half with a 6-0 run to make it
70-48, but New York's offensive rhythm began to disappear. On one
possession they grabbed five offensive rebounds but failed to
Trailing 89-69 entering the final 12 minutes, Phoenix turned up
its defensive pressure by going to a full-court press and a
half-court trap. The tactic rattled the Knicks, and the Suns didn't
The score was 101-90 when Marbury dribbled and spun through
traffic for a reverse layup attempt. The ball came to a rest on the
back of the rim, prompting a jump ball at midcourt that Thomas won.
Still the Suns kept coming, getting a driving layup from
Marbury, forcing a 24-second violation, then getting a 3 from
Marbury after a pair of offensive rebounds.
Phoenix had the ball trailing 101-95 after Houston shot an
airball with 1:31 left, but Marbury missed a 3, Marion missed an
18-footer and Marbury missed a pair of foul shots with 1:05
Sprewell answered with a 16-footer and then made two foul shots
for a 105-98 lead with 35 seconds left.
Williams sprained his right ankle early in the third
quarter after a collision with Stoudemire and did not return. ...
The Knicks finish their five-game homestand Tuesday night against
Atlanta before a three-game road trip to Miami, Memphis and
Milwaukee. ... Phoenix finishes its road trip Monday at Washington,
then takes an 11-game home winning streak into Wednesday night's
matchup with the Lakers.
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