Knicks can't beat Clippers despite return of Marbury

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Stephon Marbury couldn't quite pull it out for the New York Knicks, although he certainly was trying.

The Knicks' rousing fourth-quarter comeback came up just short and the Los Angeles Clippers held on for an 84-81 victory on Wednesday night.

Marbury, back after going missing for one game and drawing a fine of about $195,000, missed a couple of shots late in the game, but made a layup to draw the Knicks within 82-81 with seven seconds remaining.

He indicated afterward that the rift with coach Isiah Thomas won't affect his play.

"I'm positive all the way around. I'm covered. I'm fine. I feel good. I'm cool. I could walk with my head up," said Marbury, who came off the bench and scored 13 points.

"I feel like I could go forward and do what I have to do. I have a job to do and that's exactly what I'm going to do."

Thomas, asked about playing Marbury instead of suspending him, said, "I've played with people I don't like and I've won with people I don't like. We're a professional basketball team and my job is trying to win a game.

"Whatever happened in the past is in the past. We move forward."

On a night when there were a lot of rebounds to be had since the Clippers shot 37 percent and the Knicks 35 percent, Chris Kaman led Los Angeles with 14 points and 18 boards. Corey Maggette and Sam Cassell added 13 points apiece for the Clippers.

Zach Randolph had 16 points and 19 rebounds for New York, and Eddy Curry scored 16 and had 12 rebounds as the Knicks lost their fourth in a row.

After Marbury's layup trimmed the deficit to a point, Maggette made a pair of free throws to cap the scoring. New York's Jamal Crawford missed from 30 feet at the buzzer.

Marbury's 3-point try with 45 seconds left would have given the Knicks the lead, but the ball went in and out of the rim. He missed a driving layup with 19 seconds remaining and New York trailing 82-79 before making his next layup for New York's final points.

The Knicks rallied from a 73-57 deficit with 8 minutes remaining to catch Los Angeles at 77 with 1:41 on the clock. But Tim Thomas made a 17-footer to put the Clippers back in front, and Cuttino Mobley banked in a 12-footer for a four-point lead with 27 seconds left.

"We got a nice little lead, they made a run late and they pretty much had the momentum," Thomas said. "But we kept fighting and we made some big shots, big free throws, and got our hands on some rebounds down the stretch."

The disgruntled Marbury had left the team to return to New York and missed Tuesday night's 113-102 loss in Phoenix, and he flew to Los Angeles to rejoin them.

Thomas said before the game that he and Marbury had talked after he arrived, but both said that the matter was going to be kept "in-house."

Randolph was back with the Knicks after taking time off because his grandmother died. He'll return to Indiana for the funeral on Friday.

"I know that is what my grandma wanted me to do, to come and play," he said. "She probably would have been mad if I had stayed (in Indiana) and not come to the game."

Quentin Richardson also returned to New York's lineup after being out with a right elbow injury. He scored seven points and had six rebounds.

The Clippers have beaten the Knicks nine in a row since shifting from the Los Angeles Sports Arena to Staples Center for the 1999-2000 season.

Game notes
New York had 20 turnovers, five by Randolph, to the Clippers' 14. ... The Knicks' last win over the Clippers in Los Angeles was a 77-76 victory on March 25, 1998, when the Clippers were still at the Sports Arena. That was New York's fifth win in a row over the Clippers in Los Angeles, but then the Clippers moved to Staples Center and reversed that trend.