|New York @ Memphis|
|99 - 101|
Pau Gasol hit a 15-foot baseline jumper with 2.7 seconds remaining Wednesday night to lift the Memphis Grizzlies to a 101-99 victory over the Knicks.
"The way our luck has been going, I'm not surprised," said New York guard Stephon Marbury , who was defending Gasol. "If this had been during the six-game winning streak (in January), when it was really fun, I would probably say, 'Nah, it wouldn't go in.' But everybody gets their day. It just wasn't our day."
Steve Francis ' 21-footer from the top of the key as time ran out bounced off the rim, and New York lost its fifth straight and for the 21st time in the last 23 games. New York (15-42) fell behind Charlotte (16-43) for the worst record in the NBA.
"It was a play where we try to get me to go over to the basket," Francis said, "but they had three or four guys who were kind of loaded up over there. All the other guys were covered, so I had to put it up.
"I thought I got enough arc on it, but it was a little too strong."
Marbury had 25 points and 13 assists for New York, and Francis had his best game since the Feb. 22 trade from Orlando to the Knicks. Francis finished with 19 points, including nine in the fourth period, and the Knicks shot 56 percent on the night.
Gasol scored 23 points and Eddie Jones had 12 of his 20 in the final quarter, hitting all four of his 3-pointers in the period, to carry the Grizzlies to their second straight victory.
"I was pretty upset with myself in the first half because I felt as though I had so many wide-open looks, and the shots weren't going down for me," said Jones, who was 1-for-4 in the first half. "In the fourth quarter, shots came my way, and I had my mind made up they were going to go in in the second half."
The teams were tied at 97 after Chucky Atkins made a 3-pointer for Memphis with just under 2 minutes to play. Gasol's two free throws with 44 seconds remaining gave Memphis a 99-97 lead.
But David Lee scored on a dunk after Francis drove to the lane and dished to the reserve forward to tie the score with 25 left.
That set the stage for Gasol's game-winner, as the 7-foot All-Star forward drove the baseline from the left, pulled up, double-pumped and hit the shot.
"He was really on me," Gasol said of the 6-foot-2 Marbury. "But we had a nice mismatch there, and I just had to shoot over him."
Gasol added seven assists and seven rebounds. Atkins scored 21 for the Grizzlies.
The Knicks started by slicing through the Memphis defense and reaching the rim for several dunks in the first quarter alone. Fourteen of their first 24 points came in the paint.
The inside play was punctuated by a dunk from Qyntel Woods on an alley-oop pass from Marbury for New York's biggest lead of the half at 45-35. Marbury had nine assists in the first half.
Memphis cut New York's advantage to 49-47 at the break.
The third quarter belonged to Atkins, who began scoring from outside, while Gasol, who was 2-of-7 from the floor in the first half, became more of a presence inside.
Atkins had 13 points in the quarter to help Memphis carry a 74-72 lead into the fourth period.
"We hung on down the stretch," Memphis coach Mike Fratello said. "We were able to make big plays. Eddie got hot in one stretch, and Chucky and Pau made plays that helped us get a much needed win."
The Knicks' play, some of the most inspired during the current tailspin, came with most of the team brass in town, including Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan and Isiah Thomas, the team's president of basketball operations. The team leaders met with the players and staff Tuesday to reaffirm their commitment to the current leadership, including coach Larry Brown and Thomas.
"I think everybody was conscious of him being here," Francis said of Dolan. "I think he's done a good job of letting us be ourselves. We want to win one for him. We want to also win for the fans and win one for ourselves."
The Knicks were 1-11 in February. ... It was Francis' fourth game with New York. ... In recognition of the Knicks' 5-foot-9 Nate Robinson winning the NBA dunk contest, the Grizzlies sponsored a dunkfest for four local players under 6-foot at halftime. ... New York F Maurice Taylor drew a flagrant foul in the second quarter when he got tangled with Memphis' Dahntay Jones . At halftime, Knicks officials announced that Taylor had a sore right knee and would not return. ... New York's last road win was Jan. 10 at Cleveland. ... Marbury's 13 assists tied the mark for most by a Memphis opponent this season.