NEW YORK (AP) -Stephon Marbury rejoined the New York Knicks' starting lineup Tuesday night, a week after he responded to a demotion by leaving the team for one game.
Marbury said he was told by coach Isiah Thomas at the beginning of the morning shootaround at their training center in Greenburgh, N.Y., that he would start against the Golden State Warriors. Marbury was a reserve for three games, and the Knicks lost all of them to extend their losing streak to six.
``I'm excited about playing always, and to be able to come back home and start and get back into the flow of things is always a good thing,'' Marbury said.
Marbury was introduced last during pregame introductions, as usual, and loudly booed - though not as heavily as Thomas. Marbury, who had a tough defensive assignment with Warriors' point guard Baron Davis, also was booed every time he touched the ball in the early going.
It may be only a one-game return. Marbury's aunt died Monday, and Thomas wasn't sure if his point guard would be with the team when it travels to Detroit on Wednesday.
Marbury played poorly in a home loss to Miami on Nov. 11, and Thomas told him that he wouldn't start at Phoenix in the opener of the Knicks' road trip. Marbury returned to New York and skipped that game, then returned to the Knicks the next night.
Thomas said at the time he wanted better defense and leadership from Marbury, but acknowledged before the game that the benching was a punishment. He believes Marbury will be provide what is needed.
``I just think he needed a reminder,'' Thomas said. ``I don't think it's something that he doesn't know how to do. He definitely knows how to play the position and he has great skill. He has great talent and we needed to remind him of what we need and expect from that position for us to be successful.''
Thomas said he expects Marbury to remain the starter, though Marbury said he wasn't told his return was permanent. But the Knicks desperately need some form of stability, having fallen to 2-7 and last in the Atlantic Division.
Marbury said nothing good came from last week's ordeal, though Thomas felt it may have been necessary.
``In order to have progress and to move forward, sometimes you have to have some uncomfortableness between player and coach,'' Thomas said. ``To get the most out of the player sometimes it's got to be a little bit uncomfortable, but that's the way it goes in sports. You've got to move on and you've got to get better.
``It's not going to always be a smooth, nice path of friendly relationships. Sometimes you're going to have some situations where it's testy, but for the most part you've got to get the player and you've got to get the team to improve and that's our goal.''
It's been a particularly tough stretch for Marbury, who said he also had another recent death in the family. The Knicks docked him a game's pay for skipping the loss at Phoenix without an excuse, but may choose to reconsider given what Marbury has gone through.
``It's been difficult, but at the same time I'm weathering the storm,'' Marbury said. ``I had two deaths in my family, so coping with that and trying to continue to maintain as far as what we have to do on the basketball court has been a little bit different as well. So I've made some adjustments.''
His aunt's death may have been the reason Marbury was gone before he could be interviewed after practice Monday. There was a report the whole team was kicked out of that practice, but Knicks spokesman Jonathan Supranowitz called it an ``erroneous report'' and Thomas said he hadn't done that since sometime last season.
``I'm concerned as far as the wins and losses that we have,'' Marbury said. ``We're just trying to get that to turn around. That's what I want to happen.''

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