Thomas begins coaching tenure with 3OT win over Grizzlies

MEMPHIS (AP) -- Isiah Thomas and the Knicks got off to a good

start, despite a rocky finish.

Elias Says

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It took three extra periods for the Knicks to defeat the Grizzlies 118-117. In NBA history, only one other season opener went into triple OT. That was on Oct. 18, 1974, when Portland beat Cleveland 131-129 in four overtimes.

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New York blew a 19-point, fourth-quarter lead Wednesday night

before beating the Memphis Grizzlies 118-117 in triple-overtime.

"It feels good to get Isiah and the team started right," guard

Jamal Crawford said. "(But) we have to learn to finish. We had

them down 19. We should have pushed it to 30."

Thomas said the close call wasn't all his team's fault.

"It was nothing we did wrong," he said. "It was everything

they did right. They were making shots and taking it to the rim."

Thomas, who is also the team's president, became the coach in

June to replace Larry Brown, who was fired after going 23-59 last


Knicks owner James Dolan has given Thomas an ultimatum -- show

"evident progress" in the team's performance this season or be

fired from both jobs.

Thomas said he saw good things in the Memphis game.

"We showed that we have great courage and fight, and we found a

way to win," he said. "I have a lot of respect for our guys."

Quentin Richardson made two free throws with 12 seconds left in

the third overtime and led New York with 31 points. Crawford had 21

points, Stephon Marbury added 19 and Eddy Curry had 17 points and

14 rebounds.

Richardson had 10 points in the overtimes, while Marbury had

seven before fouling out.

Chucky Atkins scored 10 of his 25 points in overtime for the

Grizzlies. Memphis got 22 points and 12 rebounds from Hakim Warrick

and 21 points from rookie Rudy Gray. Mike Miller had 18 points.

"It's real tough, being we played so hard and came back from

being down ... It's tough to lose by one after playing so hard,"

Gay said.

With the Knicks up 108-106, Atkins sent the game into the third

overtime with a driving layup with 28 seconds left in the second

extra period. Crawford got off a shot before the period ended but

it missed.

The Grizzlies missed five of eight free throws in the closing

1:40 of the first overtime, with Miller missing two in the final

seconds and Warrick missing the first of two opportunities. But

Warrick hit his remaining free throw with 4.9 seconds left to send

the game into the second overtime tied at 100.

Crawford fired from the top of the key but his shot fell short.

Memphis came back from the fourth-quarter deficit to force the

first overtime when a 3-point attempt by Crawford bounced off the

rim at the end of regulation.

After trailing from the half, Memphis took an 89-88 lead with

just over a minute to play in regulation on a steal and layup by

Gay. Marbury tied the score at 89, hitting the first of two free


Knicks rookie Renaldo Balkman, New York's first-round draft

pick, played eight minutes and missed both of his shots from the


Besides Gay, who was also a first-round selection, the Grizzlies

played rookie Kyle Lowry for 28 minutes after starter Damon

Stoudamire was sidelined with leg cramps. Lowry finished with six

points and 10 rebounds.

The Knicks were 8-33 on the road last season, so winning at

Memphis was a move in the right direction, even though it was a

bumpy one.

"It's never pretty on the road. It's always ugly," Thomas

said. "I was pleased with the whole team. They gave a gutsy

effort. There were some crazy plays at the end and we could have

caved in."Game notes
The Knicks won their season opener for the first time in

five years. ... Memphis F Pau Gasol watched from the bench in a

suit. The All-Star is out after breaking his foot while playing for

Spain in the world championships this summer.