NEW YORK (AP) -- With 18 seconds left on the shot clock late in
the second quarter, Stephon Marbury stopped and popped from 26 feet
away -- the type of shot selection that makes coaches cringe.
This launch, however, rolled perfectly off Marbury's fingertips
and arched high toward the rafters before coming down and swishing
That 3-pointer was just a hint of things to come Sunday night as
Marbury put on a dazzling offensive display, scoring 15 of his
season-high 42 points in the first four minutes of the fourth
quarter to lead the New York Knicks to their fifth straight win,
110-104 over the Los Angeles Clippers.
"What made it a good shot?" Marbury said, repeating a
question. "I was in a nice rhythm, and my intent was just to stay
in that groove and not get out of it."
Marbury never lost his touch, eclipsing the season high of 40 he
set earlier this season for Phoenix and shooting 15-for-20 overall
-- including 4-for-5 from 3-point range -- to give New York its
longest winning streak in nearly three years.
The Knicks moved within two games of .500, the mark they've been
aiming for since the mid-December shakeup that brought in team
president Isiah Thomas, and now have a two-game road trip to Dallas
and New Orleans prior to the All-Star break.
Kurt Thomas added 28 points, making his first seven shots to
give him 14 consecutive made field goals over two games, and
finished 12-for-19 as New York improved to 9-3 under coach Lenny
"Reality is definitely starting to set in," Marbury said.
"Guys' mind-set is to get to .500 and from there try to go above
Corey Maggette and Elton Brand scored 28 apiece for the
Clippers, who couldn't overcome the damage Marbury inflicted in the
first half of the final quarter.
Marbury's outburst started inconspicuously with a pair of foul
shots, quickly turning into something special.
A driving bank shot, a spin move on a one-on-two break that led
to a three-point play, an 18-footer, a 17-footer coming off a pick
that turned into another three-point play, a step-back 3. It all
added up to 15 points in exactly four minutes, capping a 17-6 run
and putting the Knicks ahead 97-85.
"Isiah's been pretty much telling me I've got to start stepping
on people's necks when you've got them down, so that's what I've
been concentrating on," he said.
Marbury added an 18-footer with 6:56 left for his final field
goal, scoring his last two points from the line for a 110-102 lead
with 10.1 seconds left.
"He's like the Energizer Bunny. I don't know if he ever gets
tired," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "They've got as good
of a two-man game right now as anyone in the league."
Even before the stop-and-pop shot in the second quarter, there
were signs that this would be Marbury's night.
He had a 30-footer to end the first quarter, also a high-arcing,
perfectly rotating swish that never hit anything but net. His long
3 in the second quarter with 18 seconds left on the shot clock gave
New York a 54-42 lead.
Thomas missed a 7-footer from the baseline at the end of the
first half to end a streak, leaving the Knicks ahead 58-51 at
intermission behind 20 points from Marbury and 16 from Thomas.
New York stayed in for almost the entire third quarter, with
Marbury missing a 40-footer at the buzzer to leave New York ahead
80-79 entering the fourth.
New York hadn't won five in a row since March 11-20, 2001.
... The Knicks record for consecutive shots without a miss is 19 by
Johnny Newman in 1987-88. ... Clippers F Elton Brand said he and
Toronto F Vince Carter have not yet heard from USA Basketball
officials regarding whether they will be chosen for the U.S.
Olympic team. Both players were on the U.S. team that qualified
last summer, but Brand and Carter were not guaranteed spots for
Athens. ... The Knicks have been in negotiations for a contract
extension with Thomas, whose deal has an opt-out at the end of this
season. ... Asked who he has grown to like during his brief tenure,
Wilkens singled out rookie F Michael Sweetney for praise. "He's
quicker than people realize, he's tough as a bull and has a soft
touch around the basket." Despite the praise, Sweetney did not