PHILADELPHIA -- The 76ers' rotation went a little deeper, the lead was held a little longer and there was a locker room full of smiling faces for one of the few times this year.
Beating the Knicks was nice. So was the Sixers' realization that if they beat New York again Saturday night, they'll have their first two-game winning streak of the season.
"Let's go try and get two," said forward Kyle Korver.
"Any time you win and you feel like you've played fairly well, it's a good feeling," Korver said. "We could use a couple of good feelings right now. We didn't have a stretch where we didn't play hard or well."
Stephon Marbury returned to the lineup a day after attending the funeral of his father, Donald, who died Sunday night. Marbury briefly considered skipping the game, but said he realized the only way to truly honor his father's memory was to play.
He played only 13 minutes, scored two points in the first half and voluntarily removed himself from the game at halftime. Marbury said he barely slept the last five days and watched the second half from the bench in a warmup jacket, head in hand.
"I couldn't get into the physical aspects of playing the game," Marbury said. "I'm emotionally drained. It's the toughest thing I've ever done. This is something that you can't prepare yourself for."
Marbury can try again Saturday night when the two teams play at Madison Square Garden.
"A win tomorrow would do it for us," Dalembert said. "Then I would be happy."
Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks had talked about possibly expanding his rotation or playing some of the younger players more minutes. Sure enough, the Sixers tried to build on their single-digit lead in the fourth with a lineup that included Williams and Thaddeus Young and not Iguodala or Andre Miller.
Crawford scored New York's first 13 points of the fourth to help cut the gap to 86-80.
But the Sixers took control, highlighted by a thunderous dunk by Dalembert on the break that gave them a 94-80 lead with 3:06 left. When Crawford scored again on a 3, it was too late.
Marbury wasn't the only Knicks starter back in the lineup. Center Eddy Curry, who sat out against the Nets because of a sprained left ankle, scored 12 points in 25 minutes.
"It's disappointing on our end," Lee said. "We needed this win tonight. We play them again tomorrow and we need to get one tomorrow."
The Sixers stretched their lead to 11 in the third only to watch Quentin Richardson hit a 3 to cap a 10-0 run and pull the Knicks within one. Philadelphia took a 72-67 lead into the fourth.
Reggie Evans added 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Sixers. Korver sank all three 3-point attempts.
Another small, dull crowd had more interest in razzing the players than rooting their teams on. One fan in a Knicks hat held a "Fire Isiah!" sign directly across the court from Thomas. "Just quit! Please!" he yelled. One fan who might not have noticed was the man taking a nap a few rows over.
Hard to believe this game was between two franchises whose names used to mean so much to the NBA. The Pearl. Dr. J. Clyde. A.I. The nicknames alone were worth the price of admission.
Bad trades, salary cap mismanagement, and some off-court embarrassments have these two teams playing to stay out of last place instead for a conference championship. Thomas and Cheeks haven't found the winning formula as coaches that they did when they were title-winning point guards and they are each likely coaching their final season.
- Sixers F Shavlik Randolph, who hadn't played since November 2006, while recovering from a broken ankle, was activated. He played 17 seconds. "It felt good to get my feet wet," he said, his feet soaking in an ice bucket.
- Cheeks admired the way Marbury was able to put aside his grief and try to play. "I don't know if I could," he said. "I don't know many people who can. He's obviously one who can do it."
- The Knicks made only two turnovers in the first half.
- The Sixers won six straight at home against the Knicks.