The Philadelphia 76ers regained momentum when Marbury was resting in the fourth quarter, then held on to beat the Knicks 92-90 Wednesday night when Andre Iguodala blocked Marbury's potential winning 3-point try as time expired.
Marbury scored 20 points in the third quarter, and New York turned a double-digit deficit into a nine-point lead. But the Knicks couldn't survive his short break midway through the fourth, missing a chance to pull within 1 1/2 games of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"I wanted to play, but at the same time I basically was running up and down the court for about four or five minutes straight. I got winded," Marbury said. "It's a funny thing when you have it going, you have it going but at the same time you exert so much energy as far as what you're doing. I think that was a great move on Isiah's part as far as taking me out and giving me that breather."
But it changed the game that Marbury had helped New York take control of. A lead that had been nine was down to two by the time Marbury's 59-second break was over.
"When he is not in the game, sometimes we don't have enough on the perimeter," Thomas said. "For the most part I thought our guys did a pretty good job. We just have to find a way to do better."
Philadelphia used an 11-2 run to tie it at 80, and after a free throw by Eddy Curry, Korver got behind the defense twice for layups while combining with Miller for six straight points, giving the Sixers an 86-81 lead with 2:35 to play.
The Sixers were still up seven with under a minute left, but Marbury was credited with a 3 on a goaltending call and Nate Robinson made a layup after Mardy Collins' steal to make it 90-88. But Miller made a tough shot while defended by Renaldo Balkman as time was running down on the shot clock on Philadelphia's next trip.
"When you put young guys in situations where they've never been, this is where they learn, this is how they learn," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "They can learn to play in the first quarter, but when the game is close, this is when they learn to play. Then you have a guy like Andre Miller who makes big shots."
Balkman had 17 points and 16 rebounds and Curry added 14 points and 11 boards. But the Knicks lost their third straight, falling to 2-9 since Thomas was given a contract extension when New York was in eighth place in the East.
The Knicks had a final chance after Korver, who came in leading the NBA in free throw shooting at 92 percent, missed a pair from the line with 2.1 seconds left. But Iguodala got a piece of Marbury's hurried shot behind the arc and time expired.
"We didn't really need to be in that position," Miller said. "A goaltending and a key turnover, things like that happen in the game. But we were able to get to the line and we rebounded well down the stretch."
Marbury was 0-for-6 for two points in the first half, then scored 18 straight New York points in the third quarter. The Knicks didn't lead until his free throw with 3:27 remaining in the period made it 60-59.
That came a day after Thomas was fined $50,000 by the NBA for criticizing the treatment Marbury gets from referees following a loss to the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday.
The Knicks were down 57-49 with about 5 1/2 minutes left in the third before Marbury scored seven straight points to cut it to one. Miller made a jumper for Philadelphia, but Marbury nailed a 3-pointer to tie it at 59 with 3:52 to go.
Marbury's 3-pointer with 27 seconds left in the period gave the Knicks a 67-65 lead heading to the fourth. He was 7-of-7 for 20 points in the period, falling four points shy of the Knicks' record for points in a quarter, held by Willis Reed and Allan Houston.
Willie Green, bothered recently by a strained right knee, returned to the starting lineup and scored 11 points in the first quarter. The 76ers shot 60 percent in the period, taking a 26-20 lead.
Balkman kept the Knicks in the game in the first half with 10 points and 11 rebounds. The 76ers led by as much as 10 in the half and were up 46-39 at the break.
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