KNICKS 108 GRIZZLIES 101 | MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
How it happened:
Just before tipoff at the Garden, a surprise announcement was made that Marc Gasol would return to the starting lineup for the visiting Grizzlies.
Guess what? It didn’t matter.
Memphis walked into a buzz saw as the Knicks torched the Grizzlies early in a 108-101 victory on Wednesday evening.
Gasol and Zach Randolph only combined for 16 points and nine rebounds in the defeat.
In eight minutes, New York extended its 10-7 first quarter lead to 37-25, shooting a blistering 72.2 percent from the floor, 66.7% behind the arc, and Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, and Carmelo Anthony reached double figures in the scoring column.
An interesting decision by Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins opened space for Shumpert to score 13 first period points. Hollins placed big man Zach Randolph on Shumpert, which allowed the second-year small forward to park out at the 3-point line when New York spaced the floor.
For the Knicks, head coach Mike Woodson assigned Anthony on Gasol and shifted Kenyon Martin on the league’s best offensive rebounder Randolph.
Really, the starting matchups were inconsequential, considering Smith jumped off the bench for 23 of his game-high 35 points. Smith, on a tear of late registered his second consecutive game with 20-plus points in the first half.
Tonight’s outing for New York was a flashback to the early portion of the season when the squad destroyed opposing teams with crisp ball movement and lights out 3-point shooting. Case in point tonight, Anthony delivered a perfect skip pass to Shumpert for a deep ball that pushed the Knicks lead to 30 points moments before the break.
Despite the dominance early in the contest, Memphis was resilient and mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter. Quincy Pondexter scored on a putback layup to trim New York’s lead to just five points with 1:35 on the game clock.
Jason Kidd buried a 3-pointer and was fouled on the next possession, which increased the Knicks lead to 103-95.
Tony Allen connected on two more free throws before Raymond Felton hit 1-of-2 at the charity stripe and retrieved a rebound off his second attempt. Smith sunk his next two free throws to secure New York’s sixth consecutive win.
Anthony finished with 22 points and Shumpert added 16 points in the victory.
“I wanted to establish my game on the inside and move on from there. I got a lot of calls, I made my free-throws. My body is killing me but I will take it.” -- J.R. Smith
Knick of the Night:
Smith is back in the 6th Man of the Year conversation. For the second straight game, Smith scored 30-plus points and he shot an efficient 10-of-18 from the floor to go along with 12-of-13 at the free throw line. Smith also snatched seven boards in 41 minutes.
New York shot 51.4 percent from the floor and hit 13 long bombs. The home team only committed 12 turnovers.
The Knicks will enjoy a day off following the back-to-back set. On Friday night, New York hosts the Charlotte Bobcats at 7:30 PM on MSG Networks.