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Marbury says his sacrifice for team hasn't worked out

NEW YORK -- New York Knicks coach Larry Brown responded to Stephon Marbury's vow to be more offensive minded, saying he never restricted his point guard's ability to score.

Brown also questioned the timing of Marbury's remarks, which came before the Knicks lost at Charlotte on Saturday night to give them the worst record in the league.

"I've never given a guard more freedom than Stephon Marbury in my life, and he has the ball all the time," Brown said Monday before the Knicks played the Denver Nuggets.

In comments that appeared in New York-area newspapers, Marbury said he sacrificed his game for the sake of the team, but it didn't work out.

"I went into this year trying to do something, to put myself in a situation where we can win, OK?" Marbury was quoted as saying. "To help the team win games. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. So, what do I do now, as far as the way I play? I go back to playing like Stephon Marbury, aka Starbury. I haven't been Starbury this year. I've been some other dude this year."

The Knicks had won consecutive games before Saturday, even though Marbury averaged only nine points in the victories.

"We had just won I think two in a row when I heard those comments," Brown said. "So again, I'm hopeful that he'll step up and be Starbury."

The relationship between Brown and Marbury has been closely watched since Brown became the Knicks coach last summer. Marbury is a point guard who prefers to score, and Brown has been demanding on point guards throughout his career. There were doubts the two could get along.

Brown was so unhappy with Marbury's game that he sought to have him removed from the 2004 U.S. Olympic team, though the two eventually worked out their differences and Marbury played well in Athens.

Marbury's average of 17 points going into Monday was his lowest since he scored 15.8 per game as a rookie with Minnesota in 1996-97. But Brown made it clear that the Knicks' problems aren't because of scoring.

"I've said since Day 1, I don't care if a guy takes 25, 35 quality shots, it doesn't bother me at all," Brown said. "But we're not going to win any games until we start guarding people and taking care of the ball better."