Newcomers help Knicks beat Grizzlies 111-104 in home opener
NEW YORK (AP) — Joakim Noah pulled a hood over his head, covering a large bandage that hid an injury to his left ear.
No matter how bad his ear was, he definitely heard the fans chanting his name Saturday night.
“Game 1 at the Garden, stitched up, wouldn’t have it any other way,” Noah said.
Noah and fellow newcomers Derrick Rose and Courtney Lee all had impressive moments in their first home games at Madison Square Garden, and the New York Knicks used a fast start and strong finish to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 111-104.
Kristaps Porzingis scored 21 points and Carmelo Anthony had 20, including the three-point play that sparked the decisive spurt.
Rose had a couple of crossovers and quick bursts into the lane that showed his legs looked healthy and scored 13 points. Noah finished with six points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, and Lee scored 16 points as the Knicks got their first win under coach Jeff Hornacek after falling apart in the second half and getting routed 117-88 by Cleveland in the NBA season opener.
“I mean, we were a completely different team tonight,” Anthony said.
It was particularly meaningful for Noah, who grew up in New York and had himself announced during the starting lineups as from Hell’s Kitchen, a neighborhood on the west side of midtown Manhattan. Fans chanted “Joakim Noah!” for the center, who the Knicks said had a laceration and contusion that required tissue glue.
Marc Gasol scored 20 points for the Grizzlies, who climbed out of a 20-3 hole to beat Minnesota at home in their opener and nearly erased an 18-point deficit in this one.
“We’ve just got to get off to a faster start. We can’t get down,” forward Zach Randolph said. “You know, we fought back. We were there, just got to keep working.”
But the Knicks finally put them away with a 12-0 spurt after the Grizzlies had cut it to 87-85. Anthony’s three-point play with 7:34 began the run and the Rose capped it off with a basket that made it 99-85 with 5:26 remaining.
“I’m so happy I got the first (home) game out of the way,” Rose said. “The crowd was in it from the jump. We came out and really surprised them (Memphis).”
The Knicks made 11 of their first 15 shots and even after cooling off a bit led 32-19 after one quarter. They pushed it to 43-25 early in the second but the Grizzlies chipped away before the half, cutting it to 57-49.
Again the Knicks looked in control in the third, pushing the lead back up to 16, but it was down to five by the time the teams headed to the fourth.
Grizzlies: Randolph passed Rudy Gay (479) for third in Grizzlies history in games played. Mike Conley leads the list and Gasol is second. ... The only other time the Grizzlies even won their opener in Memphis was 2014-15, when they started 6-0. ... Tony Allen (right knee) missed his second straight game.
Knicks: The Knicks are 37-34 in home openers. ... The Knicks snapped a six-game losing streak against Memphis.
The Knicks are celebrating their 70th anniversary season and welcomed back a number of former players or their family members. Hall of Famers and NBA champions Willis Reed, Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe were among the players taking part in the ceremony.
WELCOME BACK, ZACH
There was a picture outside the Grizzlies’ locker room of Randolph — in his Knicks uniform. He was grabbing a rebound in the white and orange No. 50 he wore in parts of two seasons in New York from 2007-09, with the words “Welcome Back” and “Once a Knick, Always a Knick” on the sign. Team officials began doing that this season to welcome back ex-Knicks.
Grizzlies: Return home Sunday to host Washington. The Grizzlies are 16-4 at home against the Wizards.
Knicks: Visit Detroit on Tuesday to begin a stretch of three games in four nights.