The New York Knicks won eight road games all of last season. On Friday, they hope to get their second win away from home already in 2006-07.
After a dramatic season-opening road victory, the Knicks go for another when they visit the Atlanta Hawks.
New York (1-0) let a 19-point, fourth-quarter lead slip away Wednesday at Memphis, but still beat the Grizzlies 118-117 in triple overtime. Quentin Richardson led the Knicks with 31 points, including two free throws with 12 seconds remaining in the third extra session to win the game.
The Knicks began last season with a five-game losing streak en route to a dismal 23-59 finish, but wasted little time getting coach Isiah Thomas his first win in 2006-07. Thomas replaced ousted Larry Brown in June and is under pressure from owner James Dolan to facilitate improvement.
“It feels good to get Isiah and the team started right,” said guard Jamal Crawford, who scored 21 points. “(But) we have to learn to finish. We had them down 19. We should have pushed it to 30.”
Thomas liked what he saw despite the squandered lead.
“It’s never pretty on the road. It’s always ugly,” said Thomas, who is also the team’s president. “I was pleased with the whole team. They gave a gutsy effort.”
The Knicks didn’t get those efforts very often last season, when they won consecutive road games just twice and posted an 8-33 mark there, tied with the Hawks for the worst in the Eastern Conference.
New York faces an Atlanta team which dropped its season opener 88-75 to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. The Hawks (0-1) never recovered after getting outscored 29-14 in the first quarter.
“We couldn’t make shots early in the game, dug a hole and couldn’t climb back,” Hawks coach Mike Woodson said.
Atlanta will try for a better showing in their home opener. The Hawks went 18-23 last season at Philips Arena.
They also hope Johnson can continue his success against the Knicks. He averaged 28.8 points versus New York last season—his second-best average against any team and more than eight points above his overall scoring average.
New York and Atlanta split four meetings last season, with the home team winning each contest.