MILWAUKEE -- Suddenly faced with a short bench after his team completed two trades earlier in the day, New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni gave guard Stephon Marbury the chance to play for the first time this season.
Marbury said no.
The short-handed Knicks went on to lose 104-87 to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, using a seven-player rotation as Marbury again took his now-customary spot on the bench. D'Antoni said afterward that he wanted Marbury to play, but wasn't mad at him and didn't consider his decision insubordination.
"But that's enough of the talk, because it is a distraction, and we need to go forward," D'Antoni said. "We've got a new team coming in."
Indeed they do.
Earlier Friday, New York traded Jamal Crawford to Golden State for forward Al Harrington, then sent Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins to the Los Angeles Clippers for guard Cuttino Mobley and forward Tim Thomas.
With New York's top two scorers, Randolph and Crawford, suddenly out the door, D'Antoni said he offered Marbury the chance to play Friday.
Why did Marbury refuse?
"The only thing I'm at liberty to say is that I was told that they were moving forward, and I'm not the person who chooses who plays or doesn't," Marbury said.
But wasn't that at the beginning of the season?
"I was told that today, too," Marbury said.
Marbury refused to answer additional questions.
Saying he was addressing the Marbury issue for the last time, D'Antoni explained that the two came to an agreement at the beginning of the season.
"I told him the direction I was going and I didn't have minutes for him," D'Antoni said. "And I did not want to embarrass him by spot minutes. We talked about it, and it was both our decision that he go on inactive."
Now Marbury continues to sit out, and New York's new additions might not be available to play until Tuesday's game against Cleveland -- leaving them considerably short-handed.
And it showed Friday.
Milwaukee's Charlie Villanueva tied a season high with 20 points in his return from a hamstring injury, Andrew Bogut added 14 points and 17 rebounds and rookie Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had eight points and 13 rebounds as the Bucks broke a three-game losing streak.
"They're so depleted, obviously it's a game we have to have," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said.
The Knicks' leftover players kept it close until halftime, but the Bucks ultimately were able to wear them out with a pair of second-half scoring spurts.
Milwaukee led by three at halftime, then built a 57-47 lead with a 7-0 run as New York missed six straight shots to open the third quarter.
The Bucks then closed the third quarter with a 7-2 run and scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter, taking an 81-60 lead on Tyronn Lue's jumper.
"We kind of got down, felt a little sorry for ourselves, probably, and kind of gave in," D'Antoni said. "Our wills gave in a little bit."
Bucks fans sarcastically chanted Marbury's name with 7:25 left in the game and Milwaukee leading 88-65, then continued the chant in the closing minutes of the game.
"I thought it was an opportunity for him to play, and I was kind of hoping," D'Antoni said. "But at the same time, there's the consideration of a lot of guys in that locker room that are giving their hearts out, and those are the guys that I'm going to go on with."
Duhon said he wasn't bothered by Marbury's decision to sit out.
"Steph's his own man," Duhon said. "He doesn't want to play, he doesn't want to play. It doesn't bother me at all. I was satisfied going to war with the seven guys we had."
Marbury's unique situation even got the Bucks' attention.
"We were talking about it today, saying Marbury might even get in," Bogut said. "That's not our issue to deal with, it's their issue to deal with."
- Villanueva's 20 points came in only 13 minutes of play.
- Bucks guard Michael Redd missed his 10th straight game with a right ankle sprain.
- Mbah a Moute had 10 of his 13 rebounds in the first quarter.