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Marbury carries injury-riddled Knicks past Cavaliers

Mar 29, 2007 - 5:19 AM NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Stephon Marbury and the New York Knicks finally caught a break.

Marbury nailed two huge 3-pointers down the stretch and Eddy Curry scored 25 points as the Knicks snapped a four-game losing streak with a 97-93 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Marbury and Channing Frye scored 16 points apiece for New York (31-40), which tied Indiana (31-40) - two games behind New Jersey (33-38) - in the battle for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"We needed this one and the other one last night and the other one before that," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "We're just trying to get in (the playoffs). We're trying to stake our claim in this league and trying to carve out some turf."

In the most important stretch of the campaign, the Knicks have had back luck with injuries. Forward David Lee (ankle), guard Jamal Crawford (stress fracture ankle) and forward Quentin Richardson (back) continued to sit out. In the first quarter, guard Steve Francis was added to the list, spraining his ankle with 2:20 left. X-rays were negative, but he did not return to action.

"As long as we have five, we're going to go out and compete and play as hard as we possibly can," Thomas said. "That's just how we are."

With his backcourt mate down, Marbury stepped up, shooting 6-of-15 from the field - including 2-of-6 on 3-pointers. But both of his shots from the arc saved the game for the Knicks.

"(Marbury) takes that shot every single day in practice," Thomas said. "He practices it and knocks down that shot pretty consistently. The (3-pointer) that he's been making has really opened his penetration game, and he's been able to become a very effective 3-point shooter at a relatively late stage of his career."

After Marbury nailed a 3-pointer to give the Knicks a 94-89 lead with 1:41 left, the Cavaliers scored four straight points, but Zydrunas Ilgauskas missed a potential game-tying free throw with 34 seconds left.

Marbury then sealed the win with a little help from the rim. The veteran point guard's 3-pointer bounced in, out and back in to make it 97-93 with 8.5 seconds remaining.

"The first three was designed for me to shoot the three," Marbury said. "Malik (Rose) set a really good pick. The second three, I saw Channing in the corner, so I got the ball to him, and I just popped back out and got the three."

Curry was 7-of-13 from the floor and 11-of-14 from the free-throw line. New York has struggled from the line in big spots this season but shot 23-of-31 in this one.

"One day we'll get to the point where we'll convert 29-of-31 or 30-of-31, but that's wishing for the old Boston Celtic days with (Kevin) McHale or (Larry) Bird and those guys," Thomas said. "Eddy went to the foul line 14 times and made 11 of them. We haven't been able to crack 90 (percent), but a lot of that is because of our poor foul shooting. When we shoot the ball well from the foul line, a lot of the games that we've lost, those could easily have been wins."

The Knicks rebounded from an embarrassing 90-68 loss to the Cavaliers on Friday. New York recorded its season-low scoring output in that contest.

LeBron James struggled, scoring 24 points on just 6-of-20 shooting for Cleveland (43-29), which is three games behind Detroit (45-25) for first place in the Central Division and the best record in the East.

"I think we gave ourselves a shot to win," James said. "Marbury hit a bomb to win the game. We had some opportunities to win, but we lost the game on the defensive end. Right now, we're just trying to get better every day, and at the end of the season, we'll be ready for the playoffs."

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