Another Heartbreaker. Another Tease. Memphis 127 NY 123

Derek Rose goes up for shot vs Memphis.

You knew this was going to be another heartbreaker. There’ve been so many. To Memphis earlier this season, and at the end of last season, and to other teams.

The Knicks lost a heartbreaker just the other night to Portland when Jalen Brunson‘s short jumper at the buzzer rolled in and out to force OT, and they lost this one the same way — Brunson missed TWO inside jumpers in the final two Knick possessions:

  • One with 9.8 seconds left that would’ve given NY a lead, and
  • One with 1.6 seconds left that would’ve tied the game.

Double heartbreak.

Brunson was phenomenal otherwise — carrying the Knicks on his back with clutch shot after clutch shot in the 4th to pull the Knicks ahead. But in the end his last two short jumpers rolled out.

And Ja Morant‘s didn’t. Morant was on the other end, hitting big shots for Memphis down the stretch. A key loose ball was the deciding factor: the Knicks were ahead 123-122 with 15 seconds left when Morant drove into the lane and had his shot blocked by Mitchell Robinson — which would’ve been a Knick win — but the ball went right back to Morant for a putback to put Memphis on top 124-123.

Serendipity. Heartbreaker.

“Mitch came up with a heck of a block. And Morant came up with the ball and put it back in,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “That’s the difference between winning and losing right there.”

The good news: NY continues to show it can play with the best teams in the league. They are 9-11 now; Memphis is 12-8.

“We’re at the quarter point,” summed up Thibodeau. “A lot of work to do. Just keep concentrating on getting better; improving. Get ready for the next game — they come one at a time. Don’t look backwards; don’t look ahead. Just look at exactly what’s in front of us — that’s where I want us to be.”


1. Brunson Did Everything Imaginable But Win

Jalen Brunson put on a SHOW in the 4th quarter trying to will the Knicks to a win.

Time and time again he drove into the lane, craftily evading defenders, for a short money jumper. It was as if he could score any time he wanted.

Until the final two jumpers.

2. Knicks Couldn’t Hit 3’s — Until the 4th Quarter

It was a close game throughout until Memphis pulled out to a 10-point lead at the end of the 3rd. The Knicks just couldn’t hit their 3’s, and Memphis could.

Finally with 11 minutes left in the 4th, Obi Toppin hit a 3 to pull NY to within 7. Two minutes later RJ Barrett knocked down a 3 and NY was down by 4. With 4 minutes left, Cam Reddish hit a Huge 3 to give NY a 112-111 lead.

In the meantime Memphis missed 6 straight 3’s. Finally, Dillon Brooks hit a big 3 to put Memphis up by 4 with 2:12 left, but Jalen Brunson came right back with a Huge 3 to make it a 1-pt game.

The Grizzlies were 1-9 from 3 in the 4th quarter. In the end, the Knicks shot 10-30 from 3; Memphis was 12-32.

3. Mitch BEASTED

Another key to the NY comeback in the 4th was Mitchell Robinson BEASTING inside — on defense and on offense. He defended the paint well against Morant and ripped down offensive and defensive rebounds.

With 8 minutes left and NY down 105-97, Mitch ripped down an offensive rebound and was fouled — he made the 1st free throw, missed the 2nd, but RJ Barrett grabbed the offensive rebound, and swung it to Robinson who slammed it home. Memphis 105 NY 100. A big series of plays.

Mitchell Robinson finished with 16 points on 6-7 shooting (4-7 in free throws), 7 rebounds, and 5 blocks in 32 minutes.

4. Barrett Strong Game

RJ Barrett also had a strong game — and hit some key drives in the 4th. He made them assuredly — not tossing the ball up at last second after a strong drive, hoping to draw a foul as he has been doing this year — but going hard to the rim and putting it home.

Barrett was 9-17 for 22 points (2-6 from 3; 2-2 in free throws), 7 rebounds, and 4 assists in 37 minutes.

5. Sims Didn’t Play

Coach Tom Thibodeau drew fire from Knicks Twitter after the game for not playing Jericho Sims at all. Sims has been playing Great ball — jumping out of the gym to block shots, rebound, and score — yet in this game did not see action.

Instead Thibodeau had Isaiah Hartenstein back in his role as backup center — playing 15 minutes (and going 2 for 3 for 4 pts, 4 rebounds).

Steven Adams played 33 strong minutes at center for Memphis (16 pts, 10 rebounds), and power forward Jaren Jackson Jr scored 21 pts with 5 rebounds in 30 minutes — but didn’t have any blocks; Jackson leads the NBA with a 3.2 block per game average.

6. Randle & Toppin Good

Julius Randle scored 14 points (4-9 shooting, 1-5 from 3) and had 10 rebounds and 9 assists for a -2 in 35 minutes. He played well.

“I thought the playmaking was very good,” said Thibodeau of the Knick team. “I thought we had a lot of movement off the ball. We did a good job of screening away from the play; off on the weak side. I thought Julius made a number of big plays for us; had 9 assists. So.. we have to find a win; at the end you have to come up with the loose ball.”

Obi Toppin also played well — 4 for 8 shooting (1-4 from 3) for 9 pts in 15 minutes.

7. Reddish Played Really Well

And Cam Reddish came off the bench for 11 points in 24 minutes on 4-6 shooting — including that big 3 in the 4th quarter. Reddish also had a big steal, made a spectacular pass inside to Mitchell Robinson for a slam in the 4th, and made a brilliant drive to the hoop in the 4th — a huge bucket at the time.

8. Other Knicks

Quentin Grimes started and did well defending Ja Morant. Grimes had 5 points in 26 minutes but his Defense on Morant was a key factor — as Morant did not do much damage throughout the game until the end of the 4th.

Derrick Rose looked really good orchestrating the 2nd team. He had 6 pts in 12 minutes.

Immanuel Quickley banged his knee, and left the game after playing 9 minutes. Knicks PR said he left the game with “a sore right knee.” Quickley was having a good game — 2 of 3 from the floor and 1-1 from 3 for 6 pts.

For Memphis, Dillon Brooks hurt the Knicks all night — scoring 23 points on an assortment of drives and 3’s.

The Boxscore


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