|New York @ Memphis|
|114 - 130|
Hours after owner James Dolan introduced Donnie Walsh as New York's new president of basketball operations, rookie Javaris Crittenton scored a season-high 23 points, Rudy Gay added 21, and the Memphis Grizzlies had their best offensive performance this season in a 130-114 victory Wednesday night over the Knicks.
New York guard Jamal Crawford called it an emotional day with all the questions hanging over the team, and hoped things improve.
"They wear on people's minds. I'd be lying if I said they didn't. I think it affects everybody from top to bottom. Everybody may not come out and admit it, but people have thought about it," Crawford said.
Even Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni sympathized with the Knicks.
"Obviously, the Knicks are going through a tough time," Iavaroni said.
It wasn't a good day all around for Thomas. Asked before the game why he wasn't at the news conference in New York to introduce Walsh, his new boss, Thomas said he was busy with his job as coach and to ask Madison Square Garden chairman Dolan why Walsh was introduced while he couldn't attend.
Then the few fans in attendance booed Thomas during team introductions. New York followed up losing its fourth straight overall, its sixth in a row on the road and the ninth in 10 games. The Knicks now have lost 16 of 19.
"I think we've been together under pressure situations before, and he knows what kind of coach I am," Thomas said after the game of Walsh. "We've had success together before at Indiana, so I don't feel I have to prove anything coaching-wise."
Michael Conley added 18 points, Juan Carlos Navarro had 16 and Mike Miller 15 as eight Grizzlies reached double figures. It's the first time both Crittenton, picked up in the trade that sent Pau Gasol to the Lakers, Conley and Navarro all scored more than 10 points in the same game this season.
"That is something we have to keep building and hopefully in the future we will do that against the teams who are solidly configured," Iavaroni said.
Memphis has won 20 games, two short of its total for last season, when the Grizzlies had the worst record in the NBA. This was only the second time in franchise history the Grizzlies have swept the season series with the Knicks, and they never trailed against New York in either game.
Zach Randolph led New York with 27 points, and Crawford added 24. David Lee had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Renaldo Balkman had 11.
The biggest cheer of the night came not for the Grizzlies nor the Knicks. Instead, it was when the public address announcer mentioned the Memphis Tigers playing Saturday in the national semifinal late in the third quarter.
Memphis took advantage of the struggling Knicks from the start, opening the game hitting almost every shot. The Grizzlies made 13 of their first 16 and led by as much as 28-11 on a fast-break dunk by Conley with 3:10 to go in the first quarter.
New York, playing its fourth of five road games and second in two nights, started cold and hit only four of its first 14.
Memphis kept scoring and led by as much as 20 when Conley hit a 3-pointer with 2:47 left in the second quarter for a 66-46 margin. When Miller hit a 3 for a 71-53 lead with 1:18 left, that gave the Grizzlies their most points in a first half this season. The Grizzlies even added a point after the buzzer.
Officials reviewed a foul called on Balkman, put 0.1 seconds back on for Miller to attempt two free throws. Miller missed the first and smiled, then hit the second for a 74-60 halftime lead.
"Defensively, it wasn't a good game for either team," Thomas said.
The Grizzlies finished off the third quarter leading 101-89, and there was never any doubt that the Knicks' record against the Southwest Division (0-9) would get worse. The Knicks also remain winless in all 14 games against the Western Conference on the road.
"We've had things going on all year long," Lee said of the Knicks' off-court issues. "We have to focus on each game. We're professionals, and we have to be able to take adversity and go to the next game. We have to focus and come back and put our best foot forward."
Notes: The Grizzlies' previous season high in points had been 125 twice, the last on Jan. 26 against the Clippers. ... This was the second time in Memphis history the team had eight Grizzlies in double digits. The last was March 16, 2003, against Atlanta. ... The first-half total topped the 69 Memphis had in the first half on March 12 and tied the franchise record for first-half points set March 12, 2003, against Chicago. The opponent earlier this season? The Knicks. ... Randolph also had 10 rebounds, giving him his 36th double-double this season. ... Crawford also had eight assists for the Knicks. ... Memphis shot 60 percent from the floor, 46 percent from beyond the arc. The Knicks hit 25 percent from 3-point range. ... Grizzlies center Darko Milicic bruised his left shoulder in the first quarter and did not return. Knicks guard Quentin Richardson bumped his head in the first quarter and did not return.