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Free throw woes sabotage Knicks' comeback against Sonics

NEW YORK -- The Seattle SuperSonics knew Rashard Lewis' last shot was going in, and were probably a little surprised when Stephon Marbury's didn't.

Lewis made the go-ahead 3-pointer, and Seattle beat the New York Knicks 100-99 Tuesday night when Marbury missed a free throw with 0.9 seconds left.

Marbury kept up his torrid scoring with 40 points, but finished New York's miserable night at the line when his second attempt bounced out after he was fouled on a drive to the hoop with the Knicks trailing by two.

"I hate to see that happen to anybody," Seattle's Ray Allen said. "He deserved to make both of those free throws because he played a hell of a game tonight. He was definitely giving us fits all night."

The Knicks finished 24-of-38 (63 percent) at the line, ruining their comeback attempt and any hopes they had of being in playoff position by the end of the night.

"We had this game. Not even Steph's free throw, but my free throws, we just missed some big free throws," said center Eddy Curry, who was 5-of-10. "You're at the line and you miss two, or you miss one of the two, it's just like you have a feeling it's going to bite you at the end, especially in a close game like this."

Allen scored 29 points and Lewis finished with 24, including his 3 with 4.8 seconds left for the SuperSonics, who tied a season high with their third straight victory. Earl Watson matched a career high with 23 points and added nine assists.

"It was a big shot. Ray saw me wide open and when it left my hand I knew it was going in," Lewis said. "I mean that's big time, especially to do it right here in New York City in the Garden. That's something I'll always remember."

The Knicks also were trying to tie a season high with a third straight victory. They had their seven-game home winning streak snapped.

Seattle won for the fourth time in five games. Chris Wilcox added 12 points despite missing the fourth quarter after taking a shot to the head.

The Knicks entered the night a half-game behind Orlando and New Jersey for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and knowing that the Nets were visiting league-leading Dallas. But they couldn't contain Seattle's perimeter attack in the first half and their rally fell short in the second.

Without Jamal Crawford for the rest of the regular season and still missing top reserve David Lee and Nate Robinson, the Knicks got 15 points from Curry and 12 from Quentin Richardson.

Marbury did the rest, surpassing 30 points for the third straight game -- though the Knicks needed one more point from him.

"I was thinking it was good," Marbury said of his second attempt. "I missed, I've missed free throws before. It's just part of the game."

Allen scored 10 points in the final 6 1/2 minutes, including a 3-pointer after Marbury had made consecutive 3s to bring the Knicks within one; they trailed by 18 earlier in the second half. But New York kept coming, finally tying it at 95 on Richardson's jumper with 50 seconds remaining.

Seattle quickly regained the lead when Lewis put back his own miss, but Marbury answered with a three-point play to put New York up 98-97 with 42 seconds left. After a miss by Allen, Marbury missed a 3-pointer and the Sonics rushed up the floor, with Allen finding Lewis on the left side for his 3-pointer and a 100-98 lead.

"I felt great about it because when he released the shot," Allen said, "he screamed like he knew he made it and it was still on its way to the basket."

Seattle made five 3-pointers, three by Watson, to open a 31-18 lead after one quarter. The Sonics pushed the lead to 16 early in the second and were ahead by double digits for most of the remainder of the half.

The Knicks got the first basket of the second half. But the Sonics answered with seven straight points, extending the lead to 62-44 when Jared Jeffries' ugly turnover brought loud boos from the Madison Square Garden crowd and led to an alley-oop dunk for Wilcox.

New York answered with a 15-2 spurt, cutting Seattle's lead to 64-59 on Malik Rose's jumper midway through the period. The Sonics led 73-66 after three periods.

Game notes
The Sonics hope point guard Luke Ridnour, out with a herniated disc, can rejoin them in time for their game at Boston on Friday night. ... At halftime, the Knicks honored New York Liberty general manager Carol Blazejowski on the 30th anniversary of her 52-point game while playing for Montclair State against Queens College. That still stands as the collegiate scoring record at Madison Square Garden. ... Seattle's Danny Fortson was benched after missing the morning walkthrough.


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