Final

Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 1/31

Game 1: Saturday, January 31st
Suns105Final
Knicks110
Game 2: Wednesday, February 25th
Knicks95Final
Suns113

Suns 105

(17-32, 6-21 away)

Knicks 110

(22-27, 13-13 home)

Coverage: MSG

7:30 PM ET, January 31, 2004

Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

1 2 3 4 T
PHX 25 28 31 21105
NY 24 34 28 24110

Top Performers

Phoenix: J. Johnson 31 Pts, 5 Reb, 3 Ast

New York: K. Van Horn 30 Pts, 12 Reb, 7 Ast, 2 Blk

Missed free throws seal Suns' fate

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stephon Marbury insisted it was nothing personal, just business. Penny Hardaway wasn't so sure.

Marbury scored 33 of his 35 points in the first three quarters against his former team, and some untimely missed free throws by Phoenix helped the New York Knicks defeat the Suns 110-105 Saturday night.

"He didn't say anything, but as competitive as he is I'm sure he wanted to come out and have that kind of game," Hardaway said. "I think he was real focused on showing them they shouldn't have given up on him."

Keith Van Horn added 30 points for the Knicks, who led throughout the fourth quarter but couldn't put the pesky Suns away.

Joe Johnson scored a career-high 31 points but missed the second of two free throws with 21.7 seconds left to leave the Suns trailing 106-103. Phoenix made 24 of 25 from the line before the miss.

A steal by Shawn Marion gave Phoenix another chance, but Casey Jacobsen missed a pair from the line with 18.9 seconds remaining.

"I'm upset right now, but give me a few hours and I'll be fine," said Jacobsen, an 86 percent foul shooter. "I don't need to be in a room by myself to think about it. These games happen and you deal with it the best you can."

Van Horn hit two free throws with 17.2 seconds left for a five-point lead, and Hardaway -- acquired along with Marbury -- finished the Suns off by making two free throws with 15.8 seconds remaining.

Hardaway scored 13 points, making him the only other New York player in double figures.

"It meant a lot to me, also," Hardaway said. "They did trade me, so even though it was business, they did give up on me."

In the first meeting between the teams since the blockbuster, eight-player deal that sent Marbury and Hardaway to New York, Marbury ran over to the Phoenix bench and gave coach Mike D'Antoni a hug just before the opening tip.

Marbury spent nearly 2{ seasons in Phoenix, making the All-Star team and taking the Suns to the playoffs in 2003. But he was traded 34 games into this season when it became clear that the Suns would not contend for the playoffs.

By getting the Knicks to take Hardaway, who has two years and $30 million remaining on his contract, the Suns positioned themselves to be about $8 million under the salary cap next summer.

"I have no rough feelings," Marbury said. "I grew up there. That's where I matured. I got peace of mind there that helped me mature as a person and a basketball player."

Marbury was an offensive force in the second quarter, scoring 18 in the period -- including several long 3-pointers -- to help the Knicks to a 58-53 halftime lead.

Marbury reached 30 points on a deep 3-pointer over the Suns' zone to make it 73-66 with 6:52 left in the third quarter, then followed with another 3 to give New York its largest lead of the night -- 76-66.

"I never looked at it like I want revenge on them or I'm mad at them, it was just a game I wanted to win," Marbury said.

Johnson kept the Suns in it by repeatedly getting into the lane for short jumpers or kickouts to his teammates.

Johnson's putback with 1:46 left gave him his career high of 30 and pulled the Suns to 106-102. Marbury shot airballs on the Knicks' next two possessions, and Shandon Anderson threw away a pass that led to Johnson's two free throws.

Had Johnson made the second one -- or if Jacobsen had made his -- the Suns might have had a different ending to their five-game road trip.

Instead, they walked off with their sixth loss in seven games.

"We maybe ran out of gas a little bit, but we still went out there and put ourselves in a situation to win the game," Marion said.

Game notes


Antonio McDyess, sent to Phoenix in the Marbury trade, is on the injured list and did not play. He harbors resentment toward Knicks president Isiah Thomas. "I'm kind of disappointed they gave up on me so soon," he said. ... Howard Eisley, also dealt from the Knicks to the Suns, had 13 points and four assists. ... Knicks G Allan Houston missed his second straight game with a sore knee. ... The Knicks activated rookie F Michael Sweetney, electing not to offer a second 10-day contract to C Bruno Sundov. Sweetney did not play. ... Marion shot 4-for-20 but had six steals. ... Johnson set a career high for the second straight night.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
PHX
NY
Points 105 110
FGM-FGA 36-92 (.391) 40-88 (.455)
3PM-3PA 7-19 (.368) 11-22 (.500)
FTM-FTA 26-30 (.867) 19-25 (.760)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-44 14-51
Assists 16 27
Turnovers 6 13
Steals 8 1
Blocks 2 10
Fast Break Points 2 0
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 16 (1/0) 20 (1/0)

Top Performers

Phoenix
New York
Joe Johnson Johnson
Points: 31
Reb: 5
Ast: 3
Stl: 0
Blk: 0
Keith Van Horn Van Horn
Points: 30
Reb: 12
Ast: 7
Stl: 0
Blk: 2