NEW YORK - New York Knicks fans angry over the team's losing ways rallied outside Madison Square Garden yesterday morning, holding aloft a giant pink slip and calling for the firing of coach Isiah Thomas.
Two dozen irate fans signed the 8-by-4-foot pink placard urging Garden chief executive James Dolan to dump the coach, whose team was 7-17 going into last night's game. Additional signs were displayed during the game itself.
The Knicks, however, won that contest, beating Cleveland by a score of 108-90. David Lee scored 22 points and Jamal Crawford added 21 as New York shot a season-best 56.2 percent from the field.
LeBron James had 32 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Cavaliers, who have lost nine of 11.
Pistons 87, Celtics 85
BOSTON - Chauncey Billups hit two free throws with a tenth of a second left as Detroit handed Boston its first home loss of the season after 12 home victories.
Billups had 28 points. Kevin Garnett led the Celtics with 26 points, and Ray Allen, who returned after missing two games because of a sore ankle, had 24.
Bobcats 98, Jazz 92
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte rallied from a 12-point deficit with under six minutes left to defeat slumping Utah. Gerald Wallace scored 26 points to lead Charlotte.
Mavericks 108, Suns 105
DALLAS - Dirk Nowitzki had 31 points and Josh Howard 23 as Dallas outlasted Phoenix.
Grizzlies 88, Spurs 85
MEMPHIS - Rudy Gay hit a three-pointer over Tim Duncan as time expired to give Memphis a win over San Antonio. Mike Miller's season-high 31 points led Memphis.
Hawks 117, Heat 111
ATLANTA - Joe Johnson scored 25 points and gave Atlanta the lead for good with a three-point play as Atlanta outlasted Miami. Marvin Williams had 26 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks.
Magic 97, Rockets 92
HOUSTON - Orlando outlasted Houston in a game in which the Magic's Dwight Howard (21 points, 11 rebounds) dueled the Rockets' Yao Ming (19 and 17) in a battle of the NBA's top centers.
Hornets 107, Sonics 93
SEATTLE - Surprising New Orleans jumped out to a 52-33 halftime lead on the way to beating Seattle for its 16th win in 26 games. The Hornets' Chris Paul had 21 points and 15 assists.
Kings 102, Bucks 89
MILWAUKEE - Ron Artest scored 26 points, and Beno Udrih hit a career-high six three-pointers to help Sacramento top Milwaukee.
Bulls 95, Wizards 84
WASHINGTON - Ben Gordon scored 22 points and Luol Deng added 20 in Chicago's win over Washington.
Injured last night were Miami's Alonzo Mourning (torn patellar tendon in right knee) and Houston's Tracy McGrady (sore left knee).
Mourning's injury could end his career. "I went over to help him up and he just said, 'It's over. It's over,' " Miami's Udonis Haslem said.
Sitting out were Miami's Jason Williams (knee), Chicago's Ben Wallace (foot), and New York's Stephon Marbury (reason not specified).