Falling in the last minute
L
115
116
New York @
115 - 116
Record: 18-28
Stephon Marbury (AP Photo)
Stephon Marbury (AP Photo)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Stephon Marbury was a blue-and-orange blur for much of the game, flying past Mike Bibby for basket after basket as the Knicks pulled away from the Kings.

Bibby might not be the fastest point guard, but he always seems to finish well -- and this time, he led an improbable rally that pushed injury-depleted Sacramento ahead by a nose.

Bibby scored 15 of his career-high 40 points in the fourth quarter, and Matt Barnes made the go-ahead free throw and two big defensive plays to cap the Kings' 116-115 victory over New York on Friday night.

Brad Miller had 35 points as the Kings came back from an 11-point deficit in the final 3 1/2 minutes, scoring nine points in the final 48 seconds to shock the Knicks despite the absence of three injured starters. Barnes scored 16 points, one shy of his career high, and also stole the ball from Penny Hardaway shortly before time expired.

Bibby and Marbury staged a scintillating point guard duel, and much of the sellout crowd cheered both guards' feats with equal enthusiasm. Marbury, the self-declared best point guard in the NBA, led New York to a comfortable lead with a season-high 37 points on 15-of-19 shooting. The Kings trailed 114-107 with a minute left.

"I wasn't going to give up, I'll tell you that," Bibby said. "We were going to keep fighting until that buzzer went off. I've never had too many comebacks like that. How everybody played is unbelievable."

Marbury and Knicks owner James Dolan looked equally miserable at the buzzer. The Knicks made nearly 62 percent of their shots and outrebounded the Kings 46-36 -- but this might have been the most disheartening loss in a season full of them.

"This one is more disappointing than all of them," said Marbury, who scored 29 points after halftime, including 18 in the third quarter. "We had them down, and we basically didn't put them down. Mike Bibby played great, the best I've ever seen him play."

After Bibby hit a difficult 3-pointer directly over Marbury with 37 seconds to play, Barnes stole the Knicks' inbounds pass and fed Miller for a layup and a foul, tying it at 115.

Miller missed his free throw with 31 seconds left, but Hardaway missed an open 3-pointer. Hardaway then fouled Barnes underneath the basket with 6.8 seconds left, and the little-used Sacramento native made one of two free throws.

Despite Marbury's near-invincibility in the second half, the Knicks improbably gave the ball to Hardaway again -- and Barnes took it away as Hardaway tried to drive the lane.

"I wasn't going to take a jump shot," Hardaway said. "I put my head down and took it to the basket. It was crowded. We were all on top of each other. I didn't come through."

Miller flung the ball high in the air as time expired, and the crowd cheered the Kings' nine-man roster off the court with their eighth straight home win over the Knicks.

"We had them right where we wanted them, the whole time through," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "These guys have just been unbelievable, and there was never a doubt in their mind just because we have guys out, that they can't go out and win."

The Kings played without starters Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic and Cuttino Mobley -- who average nearly 60 combined points -- for the second straight game. Webber sat out for the fifth time in seven games, while Stojakovic missed his sixth straight game and Mobley his second, both with back spasms.

The Kings have lived dangerously in their absence, winning two of three high-scoring, tense games in the last four days. Sacramento hung on to beat Golden State 111-107 in overtime Wednesday night with a career-high 38 points from Miller.

"Hopefully we will get some guys back, because I don't know how much more of this I can take, and how much more we can do this," Adelman said.

Tim Thomas scored 14 of his 23 points in the second quarter of his first game back from a nine-game injury absence for the Knicks. Nazr Mohammed added 16 points and 10 rebounds for New York, which lost its fourth straight overall.

"This one hurts. This one hurts," said coach Herb Williams, who fell to 2-6 since taking over the Knicks following Lenny Wilkens' resignation.

"We let one slip away. It happens in the NBA. Any time you're going through a losing streak, things like this seem to happen."

Notes:
Dolan watched the game from a courtside seat, and he slumped with his head on his hand when Barnes made his go-ahead free throw. Dolan also had a lengthy chat with Kings owner Joe Maloof in the media dining room. ... Marbury scored 17 points in the third quarter of the Knicks' previous meeting with the Kings this season.

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