NEW YORK (AP) -- One thought has been circling inside Stephon
Marbury's head in the days since he received a pep talk from team
president Isiah Thomas.
"Be aggressive," Marbury said.
Aggression was exactly what Marbury displayed down the stretch
Wednesday night, taking over late in the fourth quarter and
finishing with 32 points and 11 assists to lead the New York Knicks
past the Minnesota Timberwolves 100-87.
Marbury scored 15 of his points in the final quarter, including
a personal 9-2 run that gave New York a 94-85 lead with 1:46
"My talk with Isiah definitely set things off," Marbury said.
"I'm not saying I'm going to go out and score 30 or 40 points
every game, I'm just going to be aggressive at both ends of the
Coming off a 34-point performance in a victory over Orlando,
Marbury shot 12-for-19 from the field and 7-for-7 from the foul
line with seven rebounds as the Knicks won their third in a row and
moved three games above .500 for the first time since the end of
the 2000-01 season.
The pep talk Marbury received was mainly focused on his
commitment to defense, but Thomas also challenged Marbury to make
more things happen on offense -- especially with second-leading
scorer Jamal Crawford sidelined for at least two weeks by turf toe.
"His thing is: Don't take your hand off the wheel when you're
driving the car," Marbury said.
Nazr Mohammed added 19 points, and Kurt Thomas had a strong
defensive effort in limiting Kevin Garnett to 17 points -- more than
six below his average. Garnett also had 13 rebounds and eight
assists, while Latrell Sprewell scored 22 and Sam Cassell 20 for
Minnesota has lost five straight road games, its longest such
skid since March 2001.
"We have a mindset that we're a good team, and I just think
everybody tries to go out and do it themselves instead of
consolidating to everybody else," Garnett said. "We've got to get
on the same page, but we'll be all right."
Michael Sweetney broke the game's final tie by hitting a
14-footer for an 85-83 lead with 3:56 left. Marbury took over from
there, making two free throws, penetrating for a three-point play,
hitting a jumper over defensive specialist Trenton Hassell, then
making two more from the line to give New York a nine-point lead.
The Knicks led for most of the game, going ahead by 13 in the
second quarter before Minnesota slowly chipped away at the deficit.
A 3-pointer by Cassell gave Minnesota a 78-77 lead with 6:21 left,
and another 3 by Cassell put the Timberwolves ahead 83-81 before
the Knicks responded with a 13-2 spurt and held Minnesota without a
field goal for more than 4½ minutes.
"We exerted so much energy to get back in the game, and then
Steph just got aggressive," Wolves coach Flip Saunders said. "We
have to get more defensive consistency from beginning to end. We're
having a difficult time getting that consistency."
Wolves G Troy Hudson did not play for the first time this
season and is unhappy with his demotion behind Anthony Carter as
the backup point guard. "We just feel at this point I'm not being
used, and I'm not being put in a position to succeed and help the
team succeed. It's frustrating when you can't do either," Hudson
said. ... Knicks G Allan Houston missed his first seven shots and
finished 2-for-11 with seven points. ... Wolves F Wally Szczerbiak
has made his last 39 free throws.