NEW YORK -- Former Knicks coach Isiah Thomas was the talk of Madison Square Garden once again on Friday night, when New York lost to the New Jersey Nets 111-110 in the preseason finale just hours after authorities were called to his home.
Patrick Ewing Jr., whose father is the Knicks' career scoring leader, provided a bright spot for New York with seven points in the fourth quarter, fueling a late rally from a 21-point deficit.
Players learned before the game that authorities were called to Thomas' house, where police said a 47-year-old man was taken to the hospital and treated for an accidental overdose of sleeping pills early Friday morning.
However, there were conflicting reports as to whether it was Thomas, a team consultant and adviser, or another family member who required treatment.
Donnie Walsh, who replaced Thomas as president and then fired him as coach, would only say that someone in the organization had spoken to Thomas and there was "some kind of a family issue and he's asked that we respect their privacy, which I intend to do."
Jamal Crawford had his best game of a poor preseason with 30 points for the Knicks, who may have been distracted after having to answer questions about Thomas from an unusually large media contingent for a preseason game.
"There's a concern, I'm sure everybody I would think is wishing for the best for his family but again ... I don't really know a whole lot," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said before the game.
Like many home games under Thomas last season, the Knicks were booed after falling well behind in the third quarter. New York had a 3-second violation and a shot clock violation in the period while the Nets were turning a five-point halftime lead into a 90-69 bulge.
"I can't accept it when we're not ready to play mentally, physically or if we just don't seem like our spirit is in the right place," D'Antoni said. "I just thought the first half was whoa is me and feeling sorry for myself and we just kind of disintegrated real quickly and those are things we are going to have to work on curing."
There was a loud ovation, however, in the fourth when Ewing Jr. checked in. Ewing, who hadn't played in a home game during the preseason, had a pair of dunks and a 3-pointer, eliciting the familiar chant of "Patrick Ewing!" at the Garden.
"It was amazing to be honest with you. It showed that they really liked me, they appreciated what I was doing on the floor," Ewing said. "I feel like that helped us with our comeback. Having that crowd behind us throughout that comeback was good for us."
Down by 18 points with 10 1/2 minutes left, the Knicks cut it to 111-110 on Crawford's layup with 28 seconds left. New York got the ball back with 4 seconds left, but Crawford's jumper from the corner was short.
Simmons scored 16 points and Carter added 13 in the first half, when the Nets shot 59.5 percent and opened a 62-57 lead. The Nets built a 21-point lead late in the third quarter before Crawford hit three straight 3-pointers at the end of the period, cutting it to 90-78.
"There are a lot of good things that happened tonight. Obviously there was a lot of good play to get that lead," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "It's good lessons because you're on the road, team's obviously going to make a run back and it's learning how to play through mistakes and not letting mistakes multiply, not letting momentum take over the game."
Both teams, who are expected to be the two worst in the Atlantic Division, finished 3-4 in the preseason.