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Richardson leads Knicks over Sixers in return from injury

Jan 11, 2007 - 4:47 AM NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Quentin Richardson gave the New York Knicks exactly what they were missing.

In his first game since December 15, Richardson scored 19 points and played solid defense on Andre Iguodala as the Knicks posted a 106-99 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers for their third consecutive win.

Stephon Marbury scored 24 points and Eddy Curry collected 20 and 10 rebounds for New York, which shot a blistering 53 percent (34-of-64) from the field and netted 61 points in an impressive first half that set the tone for the game.

"You definitely want an inside-outside attack and scoring-wise we were pretty balanced in terms of our shot attempts and shot selection," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "We still have to fight our way to get back to the .500 level or to get there. Moving a team through 82 games, it's a tough challenge."

After missing 11 games with back spasms, Richardson returned on Wednesday to spark the Knicks on both ends of the floor. He shot 7-of-12 from the field and 5-of-8 from the arc.

"Everything felt good. It felt real good," Richardson said. "To be honest, I had no expectations. I didn't know how many minutes I was going to play. I didn't know how many points (I was going to score) or anything. I just wanted to get out there, be back with the team and hopefully we won when I came back."

"Whenever you have shooters on the court, it's always a plus, especially with how we're playing now, punching the ball down low into Eddy," Marbury said. "(Richardson) definitely keeps defenders honest and it's good to have him back."

Returning to a team maligned for its lackadaisical effort on defense, Richardson made his biggest impact by forcing Iguodala out of his comfort zone.

"My job is whatever it is to get out there and try to contribute whether it's scoring, defense, rebounding, whatever," Richardson said. "I just want to do something positive for the team, whatever that may be."

The 76ers' biggest weapon, the 6-6 Iguodala scored just 13 points on 3-of-12 shooting. However, he didn't see Richardson as the main reason for his struggles.

"He's a pretty physical guy but as far as him guarding me, I really didn't see him as a huge factor," Iguodala said. "I think as a team we just didn't get some things done."

Marbury was 6-of-9 from the floor, including three 3-pointers, and 9-of-9 from the line. Curry continued his strong play, shooting 7-of-11 and 6-of-6.

Trailing, 61-42, entering the third quarter, Philadelphia went on an 18-9 spurt to open the period, capped by Joe Smith's dunk to make it 70-60 with 5:52 remaining. After the Knicks called a timeout, they answered with a 10-4 burst to take a 16-point lead on David Lee's free throw with one minute left in the quarter.

"One of the most difficult things to do is keep the intensity and emotion full throttle," Thomas said. "I think it's a battle every coach has fought and still continues to fight. When you have the lead and your team comes in at halftime, how do you keep them playing at the same intense level."

Samuel Dalembert had 18 points and eight rebounds for Philadelphia, which shot 44 percent (39-of-88).

"Obviously the second half was a lot better," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "I thought the first half, we were very, very flat. I just told the players we came out, we had no energy."

Philadelphia played its first game without forward Chris Webber, who had his contract bought out by the team prior to the game. He will be officially waived on Thursday.

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