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Late Loss in Memphis


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MEMPHIS, Tenn., March 1 (Ticker) -- The New York Knicks got a remarkable effort from the backcourt tandem of Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis but still fell short thanks to a late jumper by All-Star Pau Gasol.

 

Marbury and Francis combined for 44 points and 18 assists, but the Knicks still lost for the 21st time in 23 games as Gasol's jumper with 2.7 seconds remaining lifted the Memphis Grizzlies to a 101-99 triumph.

 

With the game tied, 99-99, the 7-foot Gasol got the ball near the left elbow and had the 6-2 Marbury guarding him because of a switch. Gasol, who scored 23 points, dribbled to the baseline and easily shot the ball over Marbury for the go-ahead bucket.

 

The Knicks had a chance to tie the game, but Francis, who scored nine of his 19 points in the final period, missed a long jumper at the buzzer.

 

Many questioned how Marbury and Francis would play together after New York acquired Francis from Orlando one week ago. Things looked worse after the Knicks dropped the first three games after the deal, including the last two by at least 21 points.

 

But New York remained competitive throughout thanks to Marbury, who collected 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting and 13 assists while committing just one turnover. The Knicks grabbed the early advantage, their first in 15 quarters, and led by as much as 45-35 late in the second quarter.

 

Memphis, which trailed by only two points at the half, built a 91-85 lead with 5:11 left after Eddie Jones, who scored 20 points, drilled the last of his four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

 

However, New York fought its way back to level it, 99-99, with 25 seconds left when Francis drove hard to the basket before dishing to open rookie David Lee for an easy dunk.

 

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