Marbury's big third quarter leads Knicks past Raptors

NEW YORK -- Eddy Curry sat down, and the New York Knicks' energy level promptly went up.

Rookie Renaldo Balkman replaced the foul-troubled Curry and sparked a dominant third quarter with his rebounding and defense, helping the Knicks beat the Toronto Raptors 92-74 Sunday.

Balkman made all seven shots he took and finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds, with his play on both ends fueling a 27-5 run that turned a two-point deficit into a 20-point lead.

"I love what I've seen from Renaldo the whole year," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "Defensively he can change the game, his rebounding. Whenever we give him 30-plus minutes, he normally has double-figure rebounds and double-figure points. He's just a guy that somehow finds a way to change a game."

Stephon Marbury scored 14 of his 21 points in the third quarter. Channing Frye added 20 points and Nate Robinson had 12 for the Knicks, who are playing without Jamal Crawford, David Lee and Quentin Richardson, three of their top six players. They snapped a two-game losing streak that had dropped them into a tie for ninth place in the Eastern Conference.

Curry went to the bench early in the third quarter with his fourth foul and finished with only five points and one rebound. But Balkman was a superb replacement before leaving to a standing ovation late in the game.

Not bad for a player whose surprising selection at No. 20 brought loud boos on draft night from Knicks fans.

"I get the guys going and that's what I want to do," Balkman said. "I might go out there and get one rebound or I might not even score a basket."

The Knicks managed only 40 points in a lackluster first half, then scored 35 in the third quarter to avenge a loss in Toronto on Wednesday. The Raptors had the big third period in that one, outscoring New York 35-18 to erase a 10-point deficit.

This time, New York shot 68 percent in the third and held Toronto to 3-of-16 (19 percent), limiting the Raptors to 13 points.

"We've been waiting for something like that all season," Knicks guard Steve Francis said.

Chris Bosh scored 21 points for the Raptors, who have lost two straight after a four-game winning streak. T.J. Ford added 14 points.

"I can't point to one guy that did what he was supposed to do today," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. "It was just a bad team game all the way around.

"We shot whatever we shot. Terrible. We didn't shoot the ball well. We turned the ball over. We forgot plays. Guys forgot their plays tonight, this afternoon."

New York trailed by two early in the third before scoring 11 straight points to take a 55-46 lead on Balkman's layup with 6:55 remaining. Juan Dixon made a 3-pointer for Toronto, but Marbury scored seven consecutive points, finishing with a 3-pointer, as the Knicks pushed the lead to 62-49.

The Knicks later had a 9-0 spurt that ended with another 3 by Marbury and made it 71-51. Balkman had eight points, five rebounds and two blocked shots in 11 minutes during the quarter.

"We haven't had too many games where we just got it handed to us like it did today," Bosh said. "We just can't get too caught up in this, because if we do I think it will carry over to other games and we don't want to do that."

Bosh and Frye each scored 10 points in the first quarter, which ended with Toronto leading 22-21. Bosh completed a three-point play after dunking over Francis with 1:09 remaining in the half, and the Raptors took a 42-40 lead into the break.

New York beat Toronto for the first time in three meetings this season. The Knicks are only 3-9 against Atlantic Division opponents, which could be costly in a possible playoff tiebreaker scenario.

Game notes
The noon start was the Knicks' earliest this season, while the Raptors regularly have Sunday afternoon home games. So, what's the trick to playing in them? "Hope they wake up. Nothing you can do," Mitchell said. "It's amazing. We can practice at 10, 11 o'clock in the morning, but playing at 12 o'clock, 1 o'clock seems like it's just tougher." ... New York is 1-1 on a four-game homestand that continues with games against league-leading Dallas on Tuesday and Portland on Thursday. ... G Anthony Parker returned to the starting lineup for the Raptors. He had missed six of the last nine games because of a sprained right ankle. ... Knicks reserve Malik Rose was hit with a technical foul while sitting on the bench in the first quarter.