NEW YORK, March 26 (Ticker) -- Stephon Marbury and some reserves stepped it up for a New York Knicks team that was hurting..

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Marbury scored 21 of his 38 points in the second half as the Knicks overcame the loss of three key players to rally for a 108-101 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

Marbury was 13-of-22 from the field, 11-of-11 from the foul line and dished out nine assists. It was his seventh 30-point game as a Knick.

"Steph was huge," New York coach Lenny Wilkens said. "He was determined. I wanted him to get to the basket. I wanted him to find people. I'm asking a lot from him, but I think he's capable. That's just the way I want him to play."

Marbury had 12 points in the fourth quarter, when the Knicks turned a four-point deficit into an 85-79 lead with a 12-2 run.

"We weren't able to guard Marbury," Raptors coach Kevin O'Neill said. "We tried double-teaming him on all pick-and-rolls. We just aren't able to contain him at the point guard spot. He played a great game. It was just one of those things that we don't have a great matchup. We have trouble guarding points. Marbury took over the game, whether he was shooting or passing."

The Knicks again played shorthanded as Tim Thomas and Penny Hardaway sat out with groin injuries. Allan Houston, bothered by a bruised left quadriceps, played the first eight minutes but left and did not return.

"It was hurting," Houston said. "I asked to come out and I couldn't go back in. But I'm glad that they pulled it out. They played hard and played with a lot of passion. That's the way you've got to do it."

However, Marbury got plenty of help from New York's bench, which outscored Toronto's reserves, 40-2. DerMarr Johnson scored 15 points and Moochie Norris added 11.

Johnson drained a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter as the shot clock expired to cut New York's deficit to 77-76. Jalen Rose made a basket, but rookie Michael Sweetney made two free throws before stealing the ball from Vince Carter and dunking to give the Knicks their first lead since the first quarter at 80-79 with 9:22 left.

Sweetney collected eight points and nine rebounds.

"Sweetney came in and played big," Marbury said. "And DerMarr played unbelievably tonight and showed what he's capable of. Whenever you have energy and continue to play hard, it really helps. Both of those guys know how to play and all they needed was the playing time."

Marbury had two baskets around Carter's 3-pointer for a 99-93 bulge with 45 seconds left. New York converted all 10 of its free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

Kurt Thomas had 14 points and eight rebounds for the Knicks, who have beaten the Raptors seven straight times at Madison Square Garden. They have not lost to Toronto here in the regular season since Nov. 25, 2000.

New York (34-39) took a 1½-game lead over eighth-place Boston in the Eastern Conference.

Carter scored 40 points and Rose contributed 21, but Toronto squandered an 11-point third-quarter advantage to lose its third consecutive game. The Raptors (30-42) fell behind Philadelphia into 12th place in the conference.

"I don't care how many points I score," Carter said. "I'm just trying to do what I have to do to get the win and it wasn't enough. Maybe next time, I need to score 50. We can't let games like this slip by."