There were a couple of fourth-quarter air balls and a few mindless turnovers. And that was just Stephon Marbury.
The Knicks were at their most inept offensively in the second half of Wednesday night's demoralizing 84-79 loss to the no-longer-can-be-ridiculed Los Angeles Clippers.
One night after a well-earned win in Seattle, the Knicks blew a 12-point lead in the last 14 minutes because they simply could not make shots. Brown's team went into an offensive nosedive in the second half, making only six of its last 34 shots in giving away a game it should have won. The Knicks had two more turnovers (nine) in the second half than field goals.
"When you don't make shots, guys, it's hard to get your defense set," Brown said. "Our three guards were 7-for-36. Our two small forwards were 4-for-12. You're not going to win too many games like that."
The Knicks (6-12) scored just 29 second-half points, 16 in the fourth quarter. The Clippers improved to 13-5 despite looking lethargic for the better part of three quarters. Cuttino Mobley made only six of 16 shots but he sank a huge three-pointer in the fourth and finished with 24 points. Elton Brand added 24 and Sam Cassell had 16 points and 11 assists.
Eddy Curry scored a season-high 24 points with 11 rebounds but he scored only two points in the final period. He also missed seven of 13 free throws including all three in the fourth. Marbury had a rough outing, missing 13 of 16 shots. Jamal Crawford scored 11 but missed nine of 11 shots. Overall, the Knicks shot 27 for 74 (36 percent).
Curry went 16 minutes in the second half without a field goal. But he re-introduced himself by dunking over Brand, a basket that gave the Knicks a 69-67 lead with six minutes left.
Nothing came easily for Brown's team, which missed four shots on one possession, but the Knicks' fourth offensive rebound in that sequence was rewarded when Marbury hit a jumper. The Knicks' point guard, who scored four points here last month in a loss to the Lakers, also fired up two air balls in the quarter.
The Knicks grabbed the lead late in the first quarter when they scored nine unanswered points, including seven from Crawford, and went ahead 25-17. The Knicks' lead was 50-39 at intermission, and despite making only 2 of 14 shots in the third quarter, the Knicks were up 63-55 going into the final period.
Los Angeles, playing without Corey Maggette, trailed by eight or more points for 17 minutes before making its run in the fourth. Walter McCarty, a former first-round pick of the Knicks, started it by hitting an open three-pointer. Clippers center Chris Kaman, torched by Curry all night, finally fought back when he blocked Curry's shot in the lane. On the ensuing possession, Kaman's layup over Curry cut the Knicks' lead to 63-62.
The Clippers took their first lead of the second half with 3:02 remaining when Cassell flopped his way into Curry and drew a shooting foul. Cassell made one of two from the line, and over the next 90 seconds, the Clippers shut out the Knicks and extended their lead to 77-71 when Mobley sank a three with 1:51 left. Nate Robinson's free throws eventually cut it to 78-75 with 1:09 left, but Kaman scored on a pull-up jumper with the shot clock winding down.
Curry appeared to kill the Knicks' chances when he missed two free throws with 39.3 seconds left, but Robinson gave them hope when he picked off Cassell at midcourt and was fouled going up for a layup. His free throws with 25.1 seconds left cut the Clipper lead to three, but Mobley made his free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
"I think we panicked," Brown said, "and started settling (for quick jumpers) when they made their run."
In other NBA action: LA Lakers 102, Toronto 91; Milwaukee 88, Philadelphia 85; New Jersey 97, Charlotte 84; Chicago 102, Orlando 93; San Antonio 98, Miami 84; Boston 101, New Orleans 87; Utah 95, Atlanta 83; Minnesota 84, Portland 74.