NEW YORK - If they hadn't thought of enough ways to give away last night's game in the first 47 minutes, the 76ers put forth a huge effort to cough it up in the final minute against the New York Knicks.
Steven Hunter was called for goaltending on a three-point attempt by Stephon Marbury, then compounded the error with a turnover that led to a Knicks basket. Kyle Korver, the NBA's leading free-throw shooter, missed two foul shots that could have iced the game.
But somehow, some way, the Sixers found a way to win, putting a huge dent in the Knicks' already slim playoff hopes with a 92-90 victory at Madison Square Garden before a sellout crowd of 19,763.
The Sixers were outrebounded by 49-28, with the minus-21 margin being their second worst of the season. They were outscored by 22-8 on second-chance points. They missed 10 free throws. Center Samuel Dalembert fouled out after 321/2 minutes of sumo wrestling with 300-pound Knicks center Eddy Curry.
But thanks to Andre Miller, who hit a 15-foot leaner on rookie Renaldo Balkman with 7.4 seconds remaining and the shot clock approaching zero to give the Sixers a four-point lead, they won. They actually won.
And no one was happier than Hunter, who also was assessed a technical foul with 2 minutes, 7 seconds to play after fumbling the ball out of bounds and then slamming the basket support with his open palm.
"Fortunately, Andre Miller hit a huge shot at the end that covered up for my mistakes," Hunter said.
"I thought the three was definitely short," he said, referring to the goaltending call. "It was a judgment call by the referee. Maybe he didn't have a good view of it. But refs are human. They make mistakes. But I thought it was short. That's why I grabbed it."
And when referee Bob Delaney called it a good basket, Hunter said he thought, "Wow, I can't believe that just happened."
The Sixers, who trailed by nine points early in the fourth quarter but used a 17-3 run to take the lead, went up by 90-83 on Rodney Carney's runner with 57.5 seconds to play. But Marbury's goaltended three-ball, followed by Nate Robinson's layup, cut the margin to two points.
After a Sixers time-out with 31.3 seconds left, Miller dribbled the clock down, tried to start a drive to the basket, momentarily fumbled the ball, and then hit on an up-and-under move to extend the Sixers' lead to 92-88.
"They know it's coming," and "you can't use it all the time," Miller said of the move, one of his favorites. "I had to use it because I fumbled the ball a little bit, but it turned out for the best."
Marbury answered with a layup, and the Sixers inbounded to Korver, who entered the night shooting 92.0 percent from the line and had made four of four foul shots earlier. But his first free throw hit the back rim, and the second swirled around the right side of the rim and came out.
But the Knicks had only 1.1 seconds left to get a final shot, and Marbury's three-ball at the buzzer was blocked by Andre Iguodala.
So, Korver was asked, do you remember the last time you missed two free throws?
"No," Korver responded in disgust. "I can't believe it. They both felt perfect. That's the thing. I was astonished. But you know, I just have to make them the next time."
"Kyle never misses a foul shot," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "I'll take my chances anytime with him on the line."
Iguodala led five Sixers in double figures with 18 points. Korver added 17 and Miller 14 to go with seven assists. Marbury led all scorers with 30 points, and Balkman added 17 with a game high of 16 rebounds.
Rookie Mardy Collins of Temple, making his first NBA start, had nine points and four assists.
Marbury didn't have a field goal until 7:57 remained in the third quarter, then couldn't miss. He scored the Knicks' final 18 points in the quarter to give his team a 67-65 lead, and Collins' three-pointer put New York ahead by 78-69 with 7:51 to play.
But the Sixers responded with a run of seven straight points that touched off a 17-3 run over the next five minutes, and they held the lead the rest of the game, although their hold was shaky at times.
They'll take the win, though.
"When we came in [the locker room], Steve and I sat down and Steve said, 'I'm glad we won the game,' and I'm like, 'Me, too,' " Korver said.