LOS ANGELES — Stephon Marbury grinned as he made his way down the hall to the New York Knicks' locker room, back in the fold but out some $182,000 because of a fine.

After skipping the game in Phoenix the previous night, Marbury flew from New York to Los Angeles and joined the Knicks for their Wednesday night game against the Clippers.

"We had a conversation, and any conversations that we have within our team, we'll try to keep those as private and in-house matters," New York coach Isiah Thomas said.

Marbury played but did not start.

Asked if he's satisfied everything is smoothed over, Thomas didn't answer directly but said: "I'm satisfied that I believe he's capable of leading this team and he's capable of playing great defense. When I see those two things, I think our team can take another step in this league.

"Unfortunately, lessons in life have to be learned on a public stage. He's a kid that made it out of Coney Island, and I think what I'm asking him to do, he's capable of doing. As I said to him before, if he can't do it, we'll have to find someone who can."

Marbury, surrounded by reporters in front of his locker, said, "This is not my battle to fight. I'm here to play basketball, and I'm just going to concentrate on that.

"I'm going to leave it internal, like Isiah said, and I will respect if everyone can just respect that. That's it. That's all I really have to say about this."

Asked if he had apologized to his teammates, Marbury said, "I plan to just tell them that this is something that has to do with Isiah and myself."

He said of the team turmoil, "Stephon and coach got this situation going on, but they're going to work it out."

Although Cleveland star LeBron James, said he doesn't know Marbury, he was critical of his just taking off from the Knicks.

"I couldn't have a guy like that on my team," James said, before the Cavaliers' game with visiting Orlando.

Earlier Wednesday, the Knicks fined Marbury more than $180,000 for missing the Suns game, the latest clash between the disgruntled point guard and Thomas.

The Knicks sent Marbury a letter informing him of the fine, according to a person with knowledge of the penalty who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday. He requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss it. The Knicks would not confirm the fine.

According to the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, players are docked 1/110th of their salaries for a missed game without a reasonable excuse. With Marbury scheduled to earn $20.1 million this season, that would be about $182,800.

MCGRADY INJURED: Rockets guard Tracy McGrady left Houston's game Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers because of a strained right elbow.

The 6-foot-8 McGrady, taken to a hospital for tests, was hurt trying to swat the ball away from Luke Walton in the final minute of the second quarter. McGrady's arm hit Walton's arm and snapped backward.

ARTEST RETURNS: Ron Artest rejoined Sacramento's lineup Wednesday night at Minnesota, ready to resume his never-dull career after serving a seven-game suspension to start the season.

The Kings picked up only two victories during Artest's penalty. They were eager to have him back, though Artest expressed little emotion about his return following the team's morning shootaround at Target Center.