- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 17, 2004

NEW YORK — The New York Knicks handed the Washington Wizards their seventh consecutive loss with a 114-110 overtime victory last night at Madison Square Garden.

New York went ahead for good, 102-101, on Kurt Thomas’ jumper. Stephon Marbury’s back-to-back baskets gave the Knicks a 106-101 lead.

The Wizards, now 1-18 in the Atlantic Division, pulled to within 108-107 after Jerry Stackhouse nailed a pair of free throws, but New York’s Tim Thomas restored the lead to 110-107 with two free throws.

Steve Blake pulled Washington (20-46) to within 112-110 with a 3-pointer with one second remaining. However, two Tim Thomas’ free throws sealed the victory for the Knicks (31-37).

“It was one heck of a ball game to have the game go back and forth like that,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “It was physical and competitive and that’s what we needed. We haven’t played that way for some time.”

Gilbert Arenas led the Wizards with 27 points and eight assists. However, he missed a crucial free throw at the end of regulation that could have given the Wizards the victory.

“I left the free throw line a little bit too early, because it looked good when it left my hand,” Arenas said.

It was the only free throw Arenas missed all night.

New York’s Tim Thomas had a game-high 32 points, including 10 in overtime. Marbury added 16 points and 14 assists.

New York, which began the night in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race, was playing its first game since rallying from 26 points down in the third quarter for a 103-100 victory Sunday over Milwaukee.

Things got a little tougher for the Knicks early on last night when starting guard Allan Houston was sidelined with a bruised left thigh.

The Wizards have been anything but the picture of health these days. Before the game, Jordan suggested that he might try something new with still-ailing swingman Stackhouse.

After back-to-back games in which Stackhouse, who had missed six games mending his knees and ankles, played an average of 41 minutes, he and Jordan agreed to try him in a reserve role.

Mitchell Butler started and finished with eight points and six rebounds. Stackhouse scored 23 points in 32 minutes, and Kwame Brown finished with 21 points and six rebounds.

The Wizards, who found out before the game that Juan Dixon’s injured left elbow (bursitis) would keep him out of last night’s game and make him questionable against Sacramento tonight, were once again without rookie forward Jarvis Hayes, who missed his fourth consecutive game with a nagging hamstring injury.

After Etan Thomas (15 points, 10 rebounds) nailed two free throws to answer Shandon Anderson’s basket late in the fourth quarter, New York’s Tim Thomas narrowed the Wizards’ lead to 93-91 with a 3-pointer with 37 seconds to play.

The Wizards failed to score, and Etan Thomas fouled New York’s Kurt Thomas with 14.8 seconds to play. Kurt Thomas made just one of two free throws, leaving Washington with a 93-92 lead.

Two Stackhouse free throws gave the Wizards a 95-92 lead and forced New York to use a timeout with 14.1 left.

With 7.2 seconds to play, Marbury, fouled by Arenas, sank both free throws to close the Washington lead to 95-94.

Arenas was fouled at the other end but made just one of two free throws, thus setting the scene for New York’s last chance for victory.

Following a timeout with 6.2 seconds to play, Marbury got the ball on the inbounds pass and drove to the basket. His errant layup was tipped in by Nazr Mohammed to force overtime.

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