PHILADELPHIA - David Lee didn't have to play last night against the 76ers after the death of his 92-year-old grandfather early Tuesday morning in St. Louis. The Knicks were willing to give him time off to tend to his family.
So it was no surprise to learn what Lee was thinking after his righthanded layup with 13.3 seconds left rattled around and then fell through the cylinder for the final points in the Knicks' 93-92 win over the Sixers.
"On my last shot, by the time it bounced around like 19 times and goes in, you definitely give it a thought," Lee said. "It's gratifying knowing I probably didn't have my best energy tonight because I was a little distracted. To be able to help our team pull off a big road victory was awesome. I'm just really happy for our guys right now."
Lee left the Wachovia Center without his teammates and headed to the airport for a late flight to St. Louis. He'll honor his grandfather - E. Desmond "Desi" Lee, a well-known St. Louis philanthropist - before hitting the tarmac again Friday.
"It just shows you what kind of professional [Lee is]," coach Mike D'Antoni said after the Knicks' first win in Philadelphia in 10 tries. "He's on a one-year contract - we didn't give him two or three years or five years or whatever - and he's going to fly out of here and be ready and come back Friday night. That's not normal. It's just a test of his character again, which he's shown repeatedly."
Lee said he considered skipping last night's game after the Knicks arrived in Philadelphia on Tuesday following their Monday night blowout loss in Oklahoma City. No one would have blamed him. But he stayed. "Made the decision to stay here and play tonight rather than go home," he said. "The rest of my family got in this afternoon. I wanted to stay and fill that role being the captain and one of the leaders on this team and play the game and try to help us. I was hoping I wasn't going to play terrible because I was distracted tonight. It made me focus even more."
The Sixers (12-26) were led by an unusually passive Allen Iverson, the almost-Knick. Iverson scored 16 but only shot the ball 14 times.
In fact, Iverson passed up an open look at the last shot of the game. He dished to Rodney Carney, whose three at the buzzer rimmed out.
In the first quarter, the Knicks jumped out to an eight-point lead. Gallinari and Chris Duhon quickly set aside their shooting 0-fers (combined 0-for-15) in the previous game by hitting their first shots. The Knicks led 30-26 after one quarter.
The Sixers had a 48-47 lead at the half, however, as the Knicks went from 67-percent shooting in the first quarter to 23 percent in the second.
After scoring 17 points in the second quarter, the Knicks tallied 21 in the third. The teams entered the fourth tied at 68.
Notes & quotes: D'Antoni, when told that Darko Milicic reportedly would like to be waived, said: "Cool." He added that decision wasn't his department and that Milicic has not been a problem this season.