The Grizzlies had momentum on their side Friday night at The Pyramid until Howard Eisley returned to the court.
Eisley scored seven of his career-high 30 points in the final two minutes as the New York Knicks held on for a 108-102 victory over the Grizzlies.
The Knicks maintained control throughout the first 3 1/2 quarters led by a dominant performance from Eisley, who made 12-of-15 shots from the floor and dished out eight assists. He became the first Knicks point guard to reach 30 points since Mark Jackson on April 10, 1992.
"I just had a lot of good looks at the basket," he said. "Guys did a good job of finding open players on the floor and I was just able to step up and knock some shots down."
"It was nice to have a 'Howard Eisley Show' for a change," New York coach Don Chaney said. "He was really rolling big-time. He didn't hesitate taking shots."
New York led by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter, but Memphis scored 12 consecutive points while Eisley was on the bench, highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers from Shane Battier.
Pau Gasol scored four points during the spurt and capped it with an alley-oop dunk from Jason Williams to pull the Grizzlies within 97-95 at the 4:31 mark.
Othella Harrington made a hook shot and Kurt Thomas made two free throws for the Knicks before Eisley returned with 3:12 remaining. After a hook shot by Memphis' Lorenzen Wright, Eisley buried a 3-pointer for a 104-97 cushion with two minutes to go.
"When you're called upon you want to go out there and be productive and try and help the team get a win," Eisley said.
"He came right in cold in the fourth quarter and hit that three," New York guard Allan Houston said. "That's when you know somebody is on fire."
Wright made another shot before Eisley buried a pair of jumpers 30 seconds apart in the final minute to lift the Knicks to their sixth win in eight games.
"(In practice) we covered Eisley at great length because he is having such a great season and he is shooting the ball very well," Memphis coach Hubie Brown said. "They are more of a 3-point shooting team now than they have ever been. We prepared for it. We couldn't cover them man-to-man."
Eisley made 6-of-9 3-pointers as New York buried 13-of-25 shots from the arc.
"He was feeling it," said Knicks forward Latrell Sprewell, who had 13 points. "It was just fun to watch and be out there and see him play that way. He didn't waste any time putting shots up and they were going down for him."
Kurt Thomas scored 17 points before fouling out with with 84 seconds left and Houston added 16 for New York, which improved to 1-1 on a three-game road trip.
Othella Harrington grabbed 13 rebounds as the Knicks held a 42-32 edge on the glass. New York's 3-point shooting and rebounding helped offset the inside proficiency of Memphis, which had a 50-26 edge in points in the paint.
"Our big guys were getting whipped all night long," Brown said. "We got whipped on the boards. Our coverage was very, very poor on the perimeter. Not a game to be proud of."
Gasol tied a career-high with 32 points and Williams added 21 and 13 assists as the Grizzlies' losing streak reached five games.
Gasol made 13-of-19 shots and Battier finished with 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting for Memphis, which shot 51 percent (41-of-81) and made 8-of-18 3-pointers.
"We played poor defense and didn't deserve to win the game," Battier said.
The Grizzlies never led after Gasol opened the game with a hook shot. Eisley scored the next five points and Houston gave the Knicks the lead for good at 21-18 on a 3-pointer with 3:36 left in the first quarter.
Charlie Ward buried two 3-pointers during a 12-0 run in the second quarter as the Knicks carried a 58-47 cushion into halftime. Memphis did not get closer than nine until the final six minutes.