NEW YORK (AP) -- Two days of two-a-day practices following a
stern talk from Isiah Thomas straightened out the New York Knicks.
It didn't hurt that they faced the Nets on a night when Jason Kidd
and Kenyon Martin were sidelined.
Stephon Marbury had seven of his nine assists in the first
quarter when New York took control for good, and the Knicks rolled
to a 79-65 victory over New Jersey on Friday night to snap a
five-game losing streak against their cross-river rival.
"I think it was something that was definitely needed," center
Nazr Mohammed said of the lengthy practices. "We're a team that's
trying to come together, mesh better and understand what we need to
do going into this playoff stretch -- you know, extraordinary
measures for extraordinary times."
Kidd (bone bruise, left knee) went on the injured list earlier
in the day and Martin (knee tendinitis) also sat out, depriving the
Nets of two of their three leading scorers.
The Knicks had little trouble defeating what remained of the
Nets, getting 21 points from Marbury, 16 from Tim Thomas and 14
The game was New York's first since Isiah Thomas spoke to the
team following their overtime victory against Washington,
criticizing the Knicks for playing with a lack of urgency.
"There are opportunistic times when you can look at your team
and really try to inspire and motivate them," Thomas said. "It's
not when you feel like it, it's when you think the teams needs it,
and I thought our team needed it at that time.
Thomas and coach Lenny Wilkens decided to put the team through a
sort of mini-training camp, and the Knicks held two-a-day practices
on Wednesday and Thursday -- an extremely rare occurrence for an NBA
team this late in the season.
Thomas thought the intensive workouts might be a cure for a team
that has been inconsistent and unpredictable throughout a season of
"In those meetings and sessions, we were able to give them
tools to work within the group, to police themselves, to resolve
conflict, to help one another, to give them the values to become a
team and solidify," Thomas said. "We asked the guys if they were
willing to give the time, and they said yes.
"If you fall down, you've got to put it back together. And an
hour a day in March to put it back together -- it isn't going to
The victory moved the Knicks a half-game ahead of Cleveland and
Miami for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
At times, there was a noticeable increase in intensity from the
Ahead by 14 midway through the third quarter, Tim Thomas dived
into the third row of the stands while saving a loose ball. And
after New Jersey pulled within 10 midway though the fourth quarter,
Penny Hardaway converted a difficult three-point play, and Michael
Sweetney stole a lazy pass by Lucious Harris and then dunked a
missed shot to put the Knicks ahead by 15.
"The energy level was up a lot more, everyone was more
focused," Sweetney said.
Richard Jefferson scored 25 points for New Jersey, which could
be without Kidd and Martin for an extended period. Kidd could not
guarantee that he'll return before the playoffs, and Martin did not
sound optimistic that he'll return soon.
"First we want to see how the knee responds to some rest, then
maybe get some games in. But we won't know that until I see how I
feel in the next week or two," Kidd said.
Kidd underwent an MRI, and team doctors planned to evaluate the
tests over the weekend. The same injury sidelined the NBA leader in
assists for an entire four-game Western road trip earlier this
"This is a serious injury," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said.
"If he's able to come back, he will. If he isn't, he won't."
Martin said his tendinitis was causing the worst knee pain of
"When you're without two All-Stars, you're going to struggle --
and that's what we did," Harris said.
The Knicks also were without a starter as Allan Houston was
sidelined by a bruised quadriceps muscle. He listed himself as day
The Nets dropped to 2-4 without Kidd. ... Frank sprinted
down the sideline midway through the fourth quarter to argue a
call, prompting referee Bill Kennedy to admonish him: "Get back
there!" One night earlier when the Nets played Detroit, referee
Mike Callahan warned Frank to stay in the coaching box. ... When
former Knicks and Nets guard Michael Ray Richardson was shown on
the main video screen, there was only a smattering of applause.
Apparently, not many of the fans recognized the former point guard
who was a three-time All-Star for New York. Ex-Knick Bernard King
also attended the game and received a much better ovation.