ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 27 (Ticker) -- Stephon Marbury
did not wait long
to break out of his shooting slump.
Marbury scored 21 of his 34 points in the first half as the New
York Knicks opened a big lead and held on for a 119-111 victory
over the Orlando Magic.
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The Knicks' leading scorer at 19.3 points per game, Marbury had
averaged just 14.3 on 30 percent shooting in his last four
games, but made 13-of-21 in this one to hand the Magic their
first loss in five home games.
"This is the way I have to play," said Marbury, who also had
seven assists. "I have to continue to be aggressive, attack the
basket and create for others and myself."
New York opened the game with a 9-0 run and led thereafter.
Orlando looked rusty after a four-day layoff, but was within
striking distance after the first quarter, 30-24.
"(Marbury) got it going for us," forward Tim Thomas
hit some early jump shots and penetrated to the basket early.
When you're wide open in this league, you're going to make some
shots. That was the difference."
The Knicks pulled away in the second, shooting 68 percent
(17-of-25) in the period to open a 71-54 lead. It was the most
points allowed by the Magic in the first half this season and
the most scored by New York since 1991.
"We came out with a lot of energy at the beginning," Knicks
coach Lenny Wilkens
said. "I thought we were smart with the
offense, especially when we were patient and moving the ball. I
feel when we play that way, our chances are good."
Orlando rallied from a 14-point deficit against New York earlier
in the season, and threatened to come from behind again after
rookie Jameer Nelson
hit a runner at the buzzer to make it 95-84
after three quarters.
The Magic cut the deficit to 112-106 at the 3:23 mark on a
16-foot jumper by Tony Battie
, and had a chance to draw closer
when Marbury missed a jumper on the other end.
But Grant Hill
committed an offensive foul on the ensuing
possession and Mike Sweetney
- who scored nine of his 11 in the
final period - hit two free throws to push the advantage back to
"We definitely didn't want this one to slip away from us,"
Thomas said. "It was a total team effort as far as us
concentrating on winning when they made their run."
scored 25 and Cuttino Mobley
added 24 for Orlando,
which shot 58 percent (18-of-31) in the second half.
"We dug ourselves a hole early," Francis said. "New York played
a marvelous game. Their offense was clicking."
Thomas and Allan Houston
added 15 points apiece, as six Knicks
scored in double figures.
"We did a good job of executing," Houston said. "We used
different looks. We used Tim in the post, catch-and-shoot and
pick-and-roll. We really mixed it up well."