Williams scored a career-high 18 points Friday night, including 14 in the second half, as the Knicks defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 98-94.
“The star for them was Frank Williams,” Memphis coach Hubie Brown said. “He abused us in the pick-and-roll, and we weren’t getting anything out of our big people.”
Williams said he just took advantage of game situations during his 25 minutes, shooting 8-of-15 and handing out six assists.
“The floor was open, and I saw opportunities to get to the hole,” he said.
But it was Williams everyone was talking about after the game, which snapped a seven-game road losing streak for the Knicks.
dropped its fourth straight and had its six-game home winning streak stopped.
“He brings an element that we lack sometimes and that’s penetration,” Van Horn said of Williams. “We have good shooters and good pull-up shooters. And to have a guy that can break down defenses like that is a big help.”
Van Horn connected on 10 of 17 shots, and Houston was 9-of-14 from the field as the Knicks shot 52 percent.
“We were very displeased with our effort,” Brown said. “We let a team shoot 52 percent in this building, which is rare this year. …Losing this one was like losing our opener, when we let Boston come in and steal the game (93-91). It was a major disappointment for us.”
Six Grizzlies finished in double figures, led by Pau Gasol with 20 points. Jason Williams added 18 and seven assists, while James Posey finished with 13 points. Lorenzen Wright scored 12 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Memphis cut the lead to 84-81 on a drive by Jason Williams with 7:15 left. But the Grizzlies, hampered by turnovers and single-shot possessions, could never erase the Knicks’ advantage.
Gasol hit a pair of free throws to cut the New York lead to 91-89 with just over a minute to play, but Frank Williams drove past Jason Williams with 40 seconds left for a layup. The Knicks put the game out of reach by making five of six free throws in the final 23 seconds.
“We told ourselves that we were not going to let this one get away,” Williams said. “We’ve been in this position many times, and we let them get away.”
The Knicks took a 19-point lead in the second quarter and held a 54-43 advantage at the break, benefiting from Memphis shooting 32 percent from the field. Houston had 16 points at the half, while Van Horn scored 15, both shooting 6-of-11 from the field.
The Grizzlies’ sloppy play continued in the third quarter when they committed five turnovers and failed to cut their deficit below five. The Knicks took a 76-67 lead into the final period.
“We were a step slow and the Knicks did a very good job of exploiting that,” said Memphis swingman Shane Battier, who finished with 11 points. “They ran a lot of pick-and-rolls, and if you’re a step slow, it really showson the pick-and-rolls.”
As with other NBA arenas, the heightened national security level led to more thorough searches of spectators entering The Pyramid, complete with hand-held metal detectors and bag searches. … The visiting team has won the last five games in the series. … Van Horn’s 28 was one short of his season high of 29 against Orlando on opening night. … Wright returned for his first start after missing two games with a lower leg injury. …Frank Williams’ previous career high was 17 points earlier this season against Minnesota….The Grizzlies’ four-game losing streak is the longest of the season.