for this game

Miller, Navarro lead Grizzlies to rare road win

Mar 22, 2008 - 3:28 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- After going more than two months without a road win, the Memphis Grizzlies found a road crowd which was more interested in them than the home team.

Mike Miller scored a season-high 34 points as the Grizzlies snapped an 18-game road losing streak with a 120-106 victory over the New York Knicks on Friday night.

Rudy Gay added 24 points and rookie guard Juan Carlos Navarro chipped in 17 for Memphis, which has won just four of its last 24 games and is 4-18 since trading Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers on February 1.

Memphis ended a 79-day drought between road victories and during its skid had lost by an average of 11.9 points, including Wednesday's loss in Minnesota when Memphis blew a 16-point lead.

Two nights later, the Grizzlies withstood a huge run in the third and were able to finish the game.

"It was good to get the monkey off our back," Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni said. "Obviously, it was a problem with our self-confidence on the road. Guys came out ready to play. We had a rough third quarter again, but this time, we righted the ship."

The play of Miller helped the Grizzlies turn back the Knicks in the fourth. After making eight straight shots in the first half, he did not score in the third but came back and scored 10 in the fourth.

While Miller's clutch shooting lifted Memphis to win, the Grizzlies fed off the energy from portions of the crowd which were loudly cheering for Navarro, giving the game a feel of an international contest and not two teams playing out the string.

"That crowd was great," Miller said. "I was happy to see that for Juan because he came a long ways over here, and then Pau left, and he's by himself from Spain to help us win games and to see his fans like this when we came to New York - I'm just so happy to see him get a win and see him play well."

"It felt like a home game as much as they were cheering for him," Gay added. "He's the mayor out here."

A large contingent of fans from Spain made the trip to Madison Square Garden and made their presence felt by waving Spanish flags and chanting for Navarro when he was not in the game and each time he touched the ball.

"I know that they had 40-50 people from Spain," said Navarro, who made four of Memphis' 13 shots from the arc. "I didn't expect this crowd and I'm really excited. My first time in Madison Square Garden, and it's really exciting."

One of the loudest ovations for Navarro came when he hit consecutive 3-pointers midway through the third, moments after New York opened the period with 18 consecutive points to slice into a 17-point halftime deficit.

After missing their first seven shots of the quarter, the Grizzlies gradually built their lead back up before settling for a 92-90 edge through three.

It was in the fourth when Navarro and his teammates gave the fans from Spain something to enjoy. Navarro opened the quarter with a behind-the-back pass to set up Hakim Warrick's dunk, which sparked the Grizzlies.

After being outscored, 40-23, in the third, Memphis held a 28-16 edge in the fourth as Miller sealed the win with a three-point play at the 4:22 mark, pushing the lead to 113-99.

Shortly thereafter, several of Navarro's fans gave him a standing ovation when he took a seat for good.

"It was amazing," Memphis rookie guard Mike Conley said. "It felt like we were in Spain all over again. So, that was a great sight to see. I love it when he gets ovations like that."

The Grizzlies also played against New York's very inexperienced lineup as Jamal Crawford sat in the fourth while rookie Wilson Chandler, Randolph Morris, Mardy Collins and Renaldo Balkman were given major minutes.

That unit went 5-of-18 from the floor as the Knicks equaled their loss total from last season.

"I thought in the fourth quarter, we had a group out there that struggled to score, particularly our two young guys," New York coach Isiah Thomas said.

Before nearly blowing the game, the Grizzlies scored a season-high 69 points in the first half. Miller scored 24 points and made eight straight shots in the half, which featured a 14-0 run.

Crawford scored 24 points for the Knicks (19-49), who fell 30 games under .500 and lost for the 10th time in 11 games. They also dropped their sixth straight home game and hold the second-worst record in the East.

"We ended up coming back and made a good game of it but there wasn't enough there," Crawford said.

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