Final - 2OT
  for this game

Richardson's free throws seal Knicks' triple-OT win

Nov 2, 2006 - 5:49 AM MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Isiah Thomas' first coaching win in three years came in thrilling fashion.

Jamal Crawford stole the ball from Chucky Atkins with 15 seconds left in triple overtime and Quentin Richardson nailed two free throws with 11 seconds to go to lead the New York Knicks to a 118-117 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in the season opener for both teams.

Thomas, also the Knicks' president, was on the bench for the first time since he coached the Indiana Pacers in the 2002-03 season. Madison Square Garden Chairman James Dolan named Thomas as coach after the team fired Larry Brown in the offseason with a mandate to show significant progress.

"It's a great way to start. We won. I thought it was a great game for the fans," Thomas said. "It's tough to come in somebody's building on opening night and win a basketball game, especially a triple-overtime game. Guys showed great courage and great fight. They hung in there and they battled and they just found a way to win the basketball game, even on a night when some of our guys didn't shoot well."

The Knicks certainly looked sharp in taking a 19-point fourth-quarter lead with 9:14 to go, but they let it slip away as the Grizzlies climbed all the way back and went ahead, 89-88, on a behind-the-back layup by rookie Rudy Gay with 1:09 to play. Gay's basket capped a 26-6 run by the Grizzlies.

Stephon Marbury hit one free throw with 57 seconds left that tied the game, 89-89, and ultimately sent it into overtime.

Crawford's steal with only 15 seconds in triple overtime led to the game-winning free throws by Richardson.

"My teammates have the utmost confidence in me," Crawford said. "Even when I'm missing, they're like, 'Come on. Keep shooting. Be aggressive.' On nights like tonight, you've got to find other ways to help your team. For me, it was defense with the block and the steal."

After Crawford's steal, Richardson stepped to the line with just 11 seconds left and calmly made them both.

"That's the fun of it, being able to step up big for your team," Richardson said. "Those are shots nobody likes to take. It's just you and the ball. ... I was just trying to focus and make shots."

Richardson led New York with 31 points on 10-of-13 shooting.

"The only thing I kept telling myself constantly was, 'We're going to win it,'" Richardson said. "Even though I was disappointed we were going to go to overtime, the main thing I kept on my mind and kept telling my teammates was that we were going to win."

Gay, the eighth overall pick in June, scored 21 points in his first regular-season game.

Mike Miller had a chance to win the game for Memphis but missed a jumper in the lane.

"We had a play drawn up," Miller said. "We didn't get it in a situation we wanted to. We didn't have any timeouts and we had to get the ball inbounds. I had a pretty good look. I just missed it. It's part of the game."

"Unfortunately we have to do a better job stepping up and making our free throws," Memphis coach Mike Fratello said. "We missed 18. It's no one's fault but your own when you miss those. (New York) hung on to win a hard-fought game. We'll take something away from this and learn more."

Crawford missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer in regulation that could have won the game. He also missed a jumper after being stripped by Kyle Lowry to send the game into double overtime.

Memphis was without Pau Gasol, who broke his left foot while playing for Spain in this summer's World Championships.

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