for this game

Lee helps Knicks jolt Grizzlies

Jan 24, 2009 - 4:17 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni may have been sympathetic for his friend Marc Iavaroni losing his job with the Memphis Grizzlies. After a slow start, his players showed no such feelings and took care of an inferior opponent.

David Lee collected 19 points and 14 rebounds as the Knicks equaled a season high with their third straight victory, a 108-88 rout of the Grizzlies on Friday night.

Nate Robinson and Al Harrington added 16 apiece and Chris Duhon chipped in 15 for New York, which won three in a row for the second time under D'Antoni - and first time since team president Donnie Walsh began clearing cap space by trading Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph on November 21.

Tim Thomas contributed 14 points and rookie Danilo Gallinari added a career-high 11 for the Knicks, who have won five of their last seven.

"They fired their coach, so you can't use this as a big measuring stick," Harrington said. "It just shows our growth and it's showing that we are mentally tough enough."

Playing with a nine-man rotation for the third straight contest, the Knicks overcame a very early 15-point deficit, shot 50 percent (38-of-76) and got a season-high 59 points from their reserves.

"They got off to a hot start," Lee said. "We were pretty concerned. We didn't want it to turn into a Minnesota game where we spot them 20 points and all of a sudden we are trying to come back. We were able to make a run, the bench came in and played well once again. It was a big effort from everybody."

"We were flat early on," Thomas added. "They came out with a lot of energy. We were kind of dead a little bit, but we found a way to pick it up and once we did that, we got right back into the game."

While this was considered a game the Knicks should win, the upcoming schedule is about to get more difficult. After trying for its first victory over Philadelphia, New York will have home games against Houston, Atlanta, the Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland and Boston.

"We are taking care of home court, which we need to," D'Antoni said. "We have some big games coming up. As long as we play well, the wins will take care of themselves."

The win over Memphis came a day after Iavaroni was fired after going 33-90 into his tenure as Grizzlies coach. Iavaroni was an assistant with D'Antoni in Phoenix and the two spoke with each other Friday morning.

"It is difficult," Memphis guard Mike Conley said. "It's just tough losing a coach in the middle of the year."

Johnny Davis was named the interim coach but is expected to hand over the position to Lionel Hollins on Tuesday. In this one, he watched the Grizzlies make seven of their first eight shots and sprint out to a 22-7 lead just over four minutes in.

"It kind of looked like we were going in the same direction," Duhon said. "For whatever reason, our energy is not as high as when we play a Phoenix or a Boston or someone like that. We're not good enough to do that.

"We have to realize that games like this are kind of like playoff games for us because we need these games so we can give ourselves a shot to make the playoffs."

Rudy Gay scored 20 points and Conley added 18 for Memphis, which shot 39 percent (30-of-77) percent and dropped its eighth in a row. Rookie O.J. Mayo had 12 points but shot 4-of-14 as the Grizzlies fell to 2-16 in their last 18 contests.

After the Grizzlies opened 7-of-8 from the floor, the Knicks gradually rallied and never trailed after Robinson's 3-pointer early in the second quarter.

"The way we played for the first five minutes is the way we needed to play the whole game," Memphis rookie forward Darrell Arthur said. "We have to play with that same intensity."

New York began widening the lead when Harrington scored 11 straight points as the team took a 56-45 lead at halftime.

Despite a 6-of-21 showing in the third, the Knicks took a 10-point lead into the fourth and sealed it with a 15-4 run that put them in front, 92-71, with 6:19 left following Gallinari's 3-pointer.

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