For most of the night, we didn’t think the New York Knicks would need things like a clutch Jason Kidd three and the need to make late free throws in order to beat the Memphis Grizzlies. The Knicks’ scorching first half made it seem like we’d be watching Chris Copeland dominating garbage time, Steve Novak making meaningless threes while Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith made fun of his championship belt celebrations. Either way you slice it, the Knicks did hold on to beat the Grizzlies and nab their season-high-tying sixth straight win with a 108-101 victory.
The first quarter was a thing of beauty. Before you could blink, Iman Shumpert was aggressive and making things happen, draining jumpers and going to the hole. Smith picked up right where he left off, scoring 11 in the first frame off the bench. And of course there was Anthony, chipping in with 10 of his own (finishing with 22). The Knicks also defended just fine, although it probably didn’t matter much considering they were hitting just about everything to start.
Naturally, the Knicks had to come back to Earth a little bit…um, no. The second quarter saw more J.R. effective aggressiveness, Novak taking seven (!) 3s and hitting three of them, Raymond Felton saying “Hey, I should try this shooting thing since it seems to be working for everyone else,” and the Grizzlies struggling to identify anybody wearing white as it all unfolded.
It took a few late Mike Conley free throws to get the Knicks’ halftime lead under 30, as New York took a 69-41 advantage before Jill Martin scored her highly-anticipated, not three years late or anything interview with the guy from The Blind Side. Shumpert was a perfect 6-for-6 at the break with 16 points, J.R. had 23 (giving him a total of 55 in his last 6 quarters), and the Knicks drained 11 of their absurd 21 3-point chucks through 24 minutes.
But the 3rd quarter is where the fun stopped. The Grizzlies started playing better defense, which was bound to happen, but also got a ton of whistles going their way and cashed in at the line. A biiiiiiig Memphis run cut the Knicks’ lead just about in half, but the Knicks were still able to keep a 16 point advantage heading into the final frame.
In the 4th, Jerryd Bayless got hot and seemingly single-handedly cut the Knicks’ lead to 10 with just about nine minutes left. While Melo struggled the entire second half, Smith got to 30 again (the first player in the league to score 30 off the bench back-to-back since Al Harrington in 2010, which is hilarious) by continuing to get to the line, warding off the initial Grizzlies 4th quarter push, but with just over five minutes left the Knicks’ lead was still just 10, very much within reach.
It got pretty scary when Quincy Pondexter grabbed an offensive rebound and made a stick back with 1:39 left, cutting the Knick lead to five. On the ensuing possession, though, Kidd nailed a three and was fouled while doing it, flashing everyone back to Brooklyn. Like back then, though, Kidd missed the free throw. The Grizz would get it to as close as four, but the Knicks survived, barely. And we’ll take it.
Forty-four wins. Fifty, and the 2nd seed in the East, are very much in reach.
Before the schedule gets a bit hectic, the Knicks have one against the Bobcats on Friday night. We’ll be all over it and more, so do stick around.