The sting of their one-sided opening-night loss lingered for a few days, and the Knicks played Saturday night like a team that just wanted to get it out of their system.
Derrick Rose dazzled with some hard drives to the rim, including a nasty crossover that left Mike Conley Jr. flat-footed. Joakim Noah made his presence felt with his passing and his passion. Kristaps Porzingis brought the Madison Square Garden crowd to its feet with a two-handed dunk in transition after leaping from a hash mark and was fouled as he stretched his long arms up and over the rim.
The Knicks held double-digit leads in every quarter and beat the Memphis Grizzlies, 111-104, in their home opener at Madison Square Garden, giving Jeff Hornacek his first win as their coach.
Before the game, Hornacek said the Knicks were looking for “a little redemption” after losing by 29 points to the Cavaliers on Tuesday night, and they got it — albeit against a far inferior team.
“We were a completely different team tonight, just the way that we approached the game, what we did defensively, the way we jelled together,” Carmelo Anthony said. “I thought everybody played differently as far as what they brought to the game today.”
Porzingis had 21 points, Anthony scored 20 and Courtney Lee, who was scoreless on opening night in Cleveland, added 16.
Rose had 13 points in his first game at the Garden as a Knick, and Noah had 10 rebounds and seven assists before fouling out and receiving a huge ovation. Noah also pounded his chest after two stops, leading to chants of “Joa-kim No-ah.”
“We looked like we knew what we were doing more often,” Hornacek said.
Marc Gasol scored 20 points for Memphis.
Noah addressed the crowd before the game, thanking the fans for their support and ending with “Let’s get it!” to loud cheers.
The Knicks looked as if they were well on their way to a rout on several occasions. They led by 16 in the first quarter, 18 in the second and 16 in the third. But the Grizzlies trailed by only 87-85 with the ball on two occasions in the fourth and couldn’t convert either time.
Then Anthony took a feed from Noah, scored inside and was fouled. He completed the three-point play with 7:34 left, starting a 12-0 run that put the Knicks up 99-85 with 5:26 remaining.
Memphis cut it to 106-101 with 1:25 left on Gasol’s three-pointer but the Knicks scored the next five points — three coming on free throws by Anthony — to put the Grizzlies away.
“It was a good bounce-back win for us,” Hornacek said. “They answered the bell. They were ready to play. Hopefully, we can keep moving forward.”
The Knicks wasted no time in putting distance between themselves and the Grizzlies. The crowd already was fired up for the home opener, but the Knicks energized them even more by making six of their first seven shots and taking a 16-6 lead after less than five minutes.
“We just wanted to see how it feels to get a win under our belt as a team,” Rose said. “The regular season just motivates us. It’s going to push us. Hopefully, we ride this thing out. We’re going to have some ups and downs. If we learn from them the right way, we should be able to correct the downs.”