MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Earl Watson is a lot more comfortable as a
starter. On Tuesday night, it showed.
Watson, starting his third game of the season, scored a
career-high 22 points, missing only one of his 10 shots, and Mike
Miller added 20 to lead Memphis to a 96-88 victory over the New
Watson, filling in after starter Jason Williams (sprained right
ankle) went on the injured list, also had five assists and sparked
an early 10-0 Memphis lead.
"I think it's easier for anyone to get in a groove when you are
starting," Watson said. "You know when minutes are coming. You
know you're going to play a lot of minutes, and you can do a lot
The Grizzlies led by as many as 15 late in the third period, and
the Knicks got no closer than the final margin in the fourth
quarter while dropping their third straight.
Pau Gasol added 16 points and seven rebounds for Memphis, while
James Posey finished with 11 points off the bench. Miller's 20
points included hitting all four of his 3-point shots. Watson shot
3-of-4 from outside the arc as Memphis shot 73 percent from 3-point
Jamal Crawford led the Knicks with 17 points, while Tim Thomas
and Nazr Mohammed contributed 16 each, Mohammed grabbing 12
rebounds. Kurt Thomas scored 12. New York's leading scorer, Stephon
Marbury, had nine points and nine assists but hit only two of his
12 shots from the field.
Marbury said early foul trouble -- he got his second with 3:33
left in the first period -- took him out of his game, particularly
defensively against Watson.
"When you get your first foul, you know you've got to ease
up," Marbury said. "When I got my second one, it was kind of
tough for me to go out and be as aggressive as I am normally."
Memphis led by 12 in the first half, benefiting from some early
mishandling by the Knicks, but also from a strong inside game. Cuts
to the basket led to several dunks, contributing to a 22-14
first-half advantage on points in the paint.
"The Grizzlies kept attacking the basket, and we came close to
being back in the game at times, but our defense was terrible,"
Knicks coach Lenny Wilkens said. "...Our first line of defense was
very poor. We have to work on that."
New York used 11 second-quarter points from Tim Thomas to cut
into the Memphis lead, although the Grizzlies held on for a 49-47
advantage at intermission. Miller's last basket of the half, a dunk
with 4:17 left in the second quarter, led to an awkward fall to the
court. Miller immediately went to the locker room with a sprained
right wrist. He returned to start the second half.
The Knicks took their first lead, 52-50, on Tim Thomas'
3-pointer 92 seconds into the third quarter.
Getting six points from Jake Tsakalidis, the Grizzlies used a
19-4 run to build its biggest lead of the game, 78-63, capped by
Shane Battier's drive late in the third quarter.
"I thought each time we pulled away, it was because of a
transition run that we got," Memphis coach Mike Fratello said.
"It was those spurts that we ran and got easy baskets that I think
made the difference in the game."
The Grizzlies activated G Antonio Burks, a rookie out of
the University of Memphis who got a warm ovation upon entering the
game in the first quarter. He finished with four points and six
assists in 19 minutes. ...Despite being activated Tuesday, Knicks G
Allan Houston did not dress for the game. ...Memphis G Bonzi Wells
was a game-time decision after suffering a hip pointer in practice
Monday. Wells did not start, but did play. Entering the game, he
was the only Memphis player to start every game.