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Return of the Scowl Towel

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(AFP/GettyImages/Jeff Gross)

I have little to say about the game last night. The Knicks went cold and stiff on the offense and made no effort to get out of a funk until it was too late. Sam Cassell is still obnoxious, turnovers are still a problem, and dad still can't get a Subway Big Philly Cheesesteak, no matter how much he asks.

Meanwhile, last night left me feeling heartbroken about Stephon Marbury, the Knick who causes me the most ambivalence and frustration. After the news of his mutiny, I was ready (and I blogged as much) to write Steph off completely as a Knick. Last night, though, I found myself willing to forgive him given the right performance against the Clippers. Steph only missed one game, so it was simple enough. A ballsy, unselfish, and enthusiastic game coming off the bench would demonstrate that he regretted his insubordination and detriment to the team. It wouldn't take much to win me over...

From the outset, things looked bad. Marbury was shown exchanging words and a handshake with Isiah in what I suppose was meant as a display of reconciliation. Anyone familiar with Steph, though, could see the displeasure in his face. Fred Jones got the start, but Marbury eventually rose from the bench. His play was, in a word, disheartening. Steph had his head down at all times. Whether he was staring blankly at the floor during a huddle or ignoring his teammates on the fastbreak, Marbury's gaze never rose above his feet, and he even donned that symbolic headdress we've all come to fear. The lasting image was a shot of Steph with 26 seconds left in a still-winnable game, grimacing and shaking his head as if it was already over.

It's this glazed-over, sullen Marbury- not the bubbly, eccentric one- that we need to worry about. I'm sure the hollering, fist-pumping Steph will return eventually, but last night's performance was opposite of what it needed to be.

UPDATE: As DoctorK16 points out, new stories are emerging that say Marbury was back in New York to grieve the loss of a mentor. Not to be harsh, but why didn't he just say that?