Knicks Come Up Roses — 5 Reasons Why NY 118 Memphis 104 on 5-3-21

The Knicks won the first game of their near-end-of-season gauntlet that includes 5 games on the road against Western powerhouses — beating the Grizzlies in Memphis on a Monday night. Derrick Rose went vintage at the end, helping Julius Randle and the Knicks Defense outplay another good team. “The Knicks are a heck of a team; give them a lot of credit — so many guys hitting tough shot after tough shot” said Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins afterwards.

1. Street Fight

This game looked to be a street fight from the start — the Knicks fell behind in the 1st quarter but came back to take a 3-pt lead after 1 quarter, then took it to Memphis in the 2nd quarter and when Julius Randle hit a step back at the buzzer to end the half, NY had an 11-pt lead.

NY pushed the lead to 17 points entering the 4th but Memphis came back on the torrid play and 3-pt shooting of Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks. Kyle Anderson hit consecutive spot-up 3’s from the corner to start the 4th and it was game on again, NY up by 11.

2. Vintage Rose and Payton Outplay Morant Badly

Derrick Rose was dominant all night, and Elfrid Payton played well too — both badly outplayed Ja Morant.

Payton pestered Morant on D — using his height and quickness to stifle him. Then Rose came in and took it to Morant offensively.

On the night:

  • Rose was 11-15 (3-5 from 3) for 25 pts, 2 assists in 27 minutes.
  • Payton was 4-8 (0-1 from 3) for 10 pts, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals in 18 minutes.
  • The two combined for 15-23 for 35 pts, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists in 45 minutes.
  • Ja Morant was 2-13 (0-4 from 3) for 8 pts, 5 rebounds, 6 assists in 38 minutes.

On one play late in the 3rd that personified the evening, Payton pestered Morant and almost stole the ball from him from behind as Morant penetrated the lane — then Morant tried to showboat by throwing the ball off the backboard to grab his own rebound and score — but the Knicks defense absolutely clamped down on him — Julius Randle grabbing the rebound and swinging a full court pass to RJ Barrett for a breakaway slam.

Rose amped up his game in the final 4 minutes. Ironically, Alec Burks was back from COVID restrictions that kept him out the last week — and was in to play the point for the final 5 minutes of the game for the outside shooting he gives NY. But he injured his ankle defending a Ja Morant drive with 4:13 left, when Morant fell on top of him after missing the contested layup — and Derrick Rose was put back into the game.

With the Knicks nursing a 6- to 8-pt lead and the game in the balance, Rose turned on the jets, with razzle dazzle dribbling and drives.

Rose hit a clutch floater off a drive with 3:16 left to give NY an 8-pt lead, and another huge floater with 1:36 left to give NY a 108-101 lead.

3. Memphis Implodes with Technicals at End

And then, with NY up only 108-101, Ja Morant missed a floater with 1:33 left, and Memphis imploded — their coach Taylor Jenkins, who thought Morant was fouled on the play (and other plays) got two technicals and was tossed from the game. Randle hit both free throws to make it 110-101 NY.

Rose hit another floater to make it 112-101 with 1:10 left and Memphis really blew up — Dillon Brooks got a tech, and then Ja Morant got two techs to get tossed. The Knicks’ Reggie Bullock hit 3 technical free throws to give NY a 115-101 lead. Ballgame.

4. Randle Another MVP Game

With all of that going on, Julius Randle quietly had another MVP game — 28 pts on 9-23 shooting (5-8 from 3, 5-5 in free throws), 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and a + 15. If you can call hitting big shot after big shot ‘quiet’. He started off the game missing his shots — so if you watched the first 5 minutes of this game, his final line is amazing.

5. Knicks Defense & Team Effort

And of course at the heart of the Knick win was their maniacal defense all night. Nerlens Noel was out with a sprained ankle so Taj Gibson had his work cut out for him, playing the talented 7 footer Jonas Valanciunas. Gibson played great — 12 rebounds, 5 blocks, 6 pts on 3-5 shooting in 33 minutes.

Norvel Pelle played well in 15 minutes — 3 blocks.

Reggie Bullock played another terrific, unsung game — 13 pts on 4-9 shooting (2-6 from 3, 3-3 in free throws) for a +13 in 34 minutes.

What was most impressive about the win, is that Memphis played well, in their home arena — and the Knicks beat them still. Said Memphis coach Jenkins: “We played closer to our standard, had a tough 2nd quarter, but I thought our guys gave a great fight tonite; this is something to build off of. We had great fight for the entire game just came up short.” He added again, “give the Knicks a lot of credit, they played really, really well tonite.”

The Boxscore


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