NEW YORK, Jan. 8 (Ticker) --
The sellout crowd at Madison Square
Garden came to welcome home Stephon Marbury
. The visiting team didn't get the memo to provide a similar warm welcome.
NBA TV highlights from|
Rockets start on 23-2 run: Play
The Houston Rockets soared out of the gate en route to a 111-79 trouncing of Marbury and the New York Knicks, who, in their fourth straight setback, simply did not have it all evening in a nationally televised game.
Acquired Monday from Phoenix in an eight-player trade,
Marbury was playing his first home game for his hometown team.
But "Coney Island's Finest" was anything but, scoring just six
points and committing four turnovers while being clearly outplayed
by Rockets All-Star guard Steve Francis
, who scored 27 points.
"I would never think it could happen this bad," said Marbury,
who in 1995 led Lincoln High School to the city high school championship at the Garden.
The 19,763 in attendance created an electric atmosphere at the outset.
But it took the Rockets just over half the opening period to
turn the buzz to boos, beginning the game with a 23-2 run that brought the first of several "Fire Chaney" chants aimed at Knicks coach Don Chaney
"I knew they were chanting, but I didn't know what," said
Chaney. "What they were saying, I found out later. It was a
good chant. Hey, we stunk."
Marbury, who used to sneak into the Garden as a kid, was not one
"That's how it goes in New York if you're losing," Marbury said.
"You gotta win."
In the opening run, the Knicks had as many timeouts as points
while committing three fouls and five turnovers. Meanwhile,
Houston's frontcourt of Yao Ming
, Kelvin Cato
and Jim Jackson
accounted for all the points until a dunk by Francis capped the
burst at the 5:27 mark.
The Knicks trailed 31-14 after one period and never got closer
than 11 points thereafter. They shot a season-low 33 percent
(26-of-78) from the field and trailed by as many as 33 points in
their worst loss of the season.
"Horrible, awful," said Chaney, who fell to 71-111 in two-plus
seasons with the Knicks. "We played like strangers on both ends
of the floor."
One night after matching a franchise-record low with 66 points,
the Rockets erupted for a season high, shooting just under 50
percent (35-of-71), including 11-of-21 from the arc. Jackson
scored 21 points, Yao and Maurice Taylor
added 15 each and
"We needed to come back and play well because of how we played
(Wednesday) night," said Jackson, who scored eight points in the
opening run. "We didn't worry about the crowd. We wanted to
come out and play and kind of dominate."
"I know we're gonna have a defensive practice tomorrow," Marbury
On a night that had "unforgettable" written all over it going in, there were many forgettable moments for the Knicks. NBA
free-throw percentage leader Allan Houston
missed two in a row
in the second period. Keith Van Horn
followed with an airball
on a 3-pointer. And after a slow start, Francis lit up Marbury
for 14 points in the third quarter, including a jumper off a
crossover dribble that had Marbury grasping for air.
Van Horn scored 17 points, leading the Knicks for the eighth
straight game. He was tied for team scoring honors by reserve
guard Moochie Norris
, who was a member of the Rockets less than
two weeks ago.
And it all took place in front of Jeff Van Gundy
, who was
replaced by Chaney when he abruptly left the Knicks just over
two years ago. He was named coach of the Rockets this summer
and also was making a return of sorts, receiving a rousing cheer
"Ain't nobody watching the game because I came back," Van Gundy
By the fourth quarter, the crowd seemed less focused on watching and more focused on chanting -- and not for Marbury.
"That's New York," he said. "When you're losing, that's what's