Gasolís Jumper Helps Grizzlies Survive Knicks
Memphis 101, New York 99
MEMPHIS, Tenn., March 1 (Ticker) -- The New York Knicks got a remarkable effort from the backcourt tandem of Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis but still fell short thanks to a late jumper by All-Star Pau Gasol.
Marbury and Francis combined for 44 points and 18 assists, but the Knicks still lost for the 21st time in 23 games as Gasol's jumper with 2.7 seconds remaining lifted the Memphis Grizzlies to a 101-99 triumph.
"(Marbury) was really on me, but we had a nice mismatch there and I just had to shoot over him," Gasol said. "Fortunately I got it off good, and I was confident I would make that play."
The Knicks had a chance to tie the game, but Francis, who scored nine of his 19 points in the final period, missed a long jumper at the buzzer.
"That was the play we called; I just missed the shot," Francis said. "It was a play we tried to get going to the basket, but they had like two or three guys loaded up over there and all the guys were covered, so I put it up."
Many questioned how Marbury and Francis would play together after New York acquired Francis from Orlando one week ago. Things looked worse after the Knicks dropped the first three games after the deal, including the last two by at least 21 points.
But New York remained competitive throughout thanks to Marbury, who collected 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting and 13 assists while committing just one turnover. The Knicks grabbed the early advantage - their first in 15 quarters - and led by as much as 45-35 late in the second quarter.
"We played well tonight as a team," Marbury said. "We did all we needed to get the win. ... We followed the game plan."
"I loved the effort," Knicks coach Larry Brown said. "We shared the ball, and it was more fun to watch with them trying like they did. We played hard, and we played unselfishly. I thought we were ready."
Memphis used a 9-2 run to pull to within two points at the half. Chucky Atkins hit three shots from the arc and scored 13 of his 21 points in the third quarter to lead the Grizzlies to a 74-72 lead heading into the final period.
Eddie Jones provided the late spark for Memphis, drilling four 3-pointers, the last of which pushed the Grizzlies ahead, 91-85, with 5:11 to play. Jones was just 1-of-6 from the field before the 3-point barrage.
"I was pretty upset with myself in the first half," Jones said. "I had so many wide-open looks, and I just couldn't make them. I told myself I was going to make them when I got them again. In the fourth quarter, shots came my way and I had my mind made up. They were going in."
However, New York fought its way back to level it, 99-99, with 25 seconds left when Francis drove hard to the basket before dishing to open rookie David Lee for an easy dunk.
"You have to give them credit, they played great tonight," Gasol said. "They made shots and they wanted to win. We didn't play very good in the first half, but the good thing is how you finish and we finished strong and got a good win."
Led by Francis, New York's bench outscored Memphis' reserves, 45-25. The Knicks shot 56 percent (39-of-70).
"I thought this was the hardest we've played since I've been a member of the Knicks," Francis said. "It's tough to lose at the end, but hopefully we can build off the effort that we demonstrated tonight."