After that, the Grizzlies and Knicks resumed their streaks in opposite directions: Memphis lost its season-high eighth straight game, while New York matched its best run of the season with its third consecutive victory, a 108-88 win Friday.
"The way we played for the first five minutes of the game is the way we needed to play for the whole game," Grizzlies rookie Darrell Arthur said. "We have to play with that same intensity. We needed to play 48 minutes of great basketball."
David Lee had 19 points and 14 rebounds as the Knicks won three in a row for the first time since early November.
Playing under interim coach Johnny Davis a day after Marc Iavaroni was dismissed, Memphis jumped to a 22-7 lead behind 10 quick points by Mike Conley.
Then it was all Knicks.
New York's bench outscored the Grizzlies' reserves 59-22.
"Guys were picking each other up, and that is what good teams do," Lee said. "That's what we hope to start to develop."
Rudy Gay led Memphis with 20 points. High-scoring rookie O.J.
Mayo was held to 12 points, more than seven below his average, on 4-for-14 shooting.
New York went ahead just over two minutes into the second quarter, and the Grizzlies wouldn't lead again. The Knicks started to pull away behind a sizzling stretch from Al Harrington.
With New York up three and less than eight minutes left in the first half, Harrington scored on five straight possessions from all over the court. A turnaround jumper, two layups, a hook shot and a 3-pointer made up a personal 11-4 run to give the Knicks a 48-38 lead.
Harrington and Nate Robinson each had 16 points off the bench for New York. Tim Thomas added 14 and rookie Danilo Gallinari had a career-high 11.
"It's a team effort," Harrington said. "You think about with me and Nate coming off the bench and Tim and now Gallo, it's a lot of offensive power. We could start on a lot of teams."
Chris Duhon's 3-pointer with four seconds remaining in the second quarter gave the Knicks their biggest cushion of the half at 56-45, and they led comfortably the rest of the way.
Memphis general manager Chris Wallace said before the game that he hoped to complete a contract with Bucks assistant Lionel Hollins by the end of the weekend to become the Grizzlies' permanent coach.
Iavaroni went 33-90 in 1½ seasons with Memphis.
Notes: Duhon went flying into the stands late in the first half chasing after a loose ball but was OK. ... The Knicks won the first game of a back-to-back set for the first time this season.
They had been 0-7. ... New York has outscored opponents by 53 points when Gallinari has been on the court during the four games since he returned from injury. ... Memphis' 88 points matched the fewest the Knicks have held an opponent to this season. ... Lee had his sixth straight double-double. Only Orlando's Dwight Howard, with 32, has more than Lee's 31 this season. Lee is averaging 18.3 points and 11.7 rebounds during the three-game winning streak.