Knicks SHRED Grizzlies for 3, then Survive 9 Straight 3’s in 4th. NY 123 Memphis 113

Donte DiVincenzo and Isaiah Hartenstein against the Grizzlies. Photo courtesy NY Knicks.

The Knicks absolutely shredded the Memphis Grizzlies for 3 quarters, leading by 24 at the half, 28 at one point in the 3rd quarter, and were up by 26 points with 9 minutes left in the game.

But the Grizzlies got Red Hot from 3 — hitting 9 consecutive 3-pointers attempted — to pull within 4 points, 113-109 with 2:05 left.

Finally the Knicks extinguished the fire — Donte DiVincenzo — the night’s big scorer with 32 points on 12-18 shooting — hit a big 3 and the Knick defense made some big plays: Isaiah Hartenstein with a blocked shot and then a steal, and Precious Achiuwa with an offensive rebound and slam for the win. Memphis missed two 3-point attempts in the final 16 seconds, their fire extinguished.

Unfortunately Jalen Brunson badly sprained his ankle with 5 minutes left and after writhing in pain on the floor, had to leave for the locker room — although he walked off without a limp.

Memphis was absolutely undermanned — missing 9 players due to injury including Ja Morant and most of their normal rotation. The Knicks were without Julius Randle, OG Anunoby, Quentin Grimes, and Mitchell Robinson.

“I tell you guys no lead is safe, so, you got to read the game,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “Second half our defense wasn’t very good. They shot 3’s; we didn’t challenge; they made. But I want to say that we built a big lead, and we didn’t close it out as well we should have, but getting the win is the most important thing. Just finding a way to win.”

NY improves to 33-18 and are now tied with Milwaukee for 3rd place in the East, with Cleveland now in 2nd place, a half game ahead. Memphis is in free fall at 18-33.

1. Knicks Show Killer Instinct

The first 3 quarters were the Freewheeling Knicks, playing with aggressiveness, precision, and flair — great defense and great offense — getting every loose ball, passing, hitting in-rhythm 3’s and making it look easy.

They showed Killer Instinct — absolutely demolishing a team they were supposed to beat (due to Memphis being so undermanned). Killer instinct is the final phase of teams that become title contenders and the Knicks are there.

At the heart of it was Donte DiVincenzo who was the most freewheeling of the freewheeling Knicks — hitting 3’s, attacking the basket, passing, playing frenetic defense, moving without the ball — he was everywhere and then — bam another nothing-but-net 3. DiVincenzo lit up the boxscore: 32 points on 12-18 shooting (4-9 from 3), 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and a block.

“Shooting the ball is a tremendous skillset and so are understanding how to move without the ball, using screens and having the ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim,” noted NBA Analyst Ross Kreines. “Donte DiVincenzo does all of that and he impacts the game on the other end. Just knows how to play.”

And then there was Isaiah Hartenstein — the bullwark — having a monster game at center. Freed up from the difficult opponent of the game before — Anthony Davis that big bastard — Hartenstein played like a man against boys: blocking shots, rebounding on both ends, scoring inside, passing. Playing like Bill Walton in his prime. 17 points for the big man on 7-8 shooting, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 3 blocks.

Precious Achiuwa his able sidekick up front — like Dean Martin to John Wayne in Rio Bravo — grabbing big rebounds out of nowhere when you least expected it; coming up with steals; scoring inside on dunks; hitting a 3! Precious with 17 points on 8-13 shooting, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals.

And of course Jalen Brunson leading the charge — it goes without saying. Efficiently taking apart the Grizzly defense like a surgeon en route to 27 points on 11-22 shooting with 8 assists.

Not to forget Josh Hart — at the heart of it all as well — rebounding, defending, grabbing every loose ball, and hitting his shot: a game-high +20 with 10 pts (on 3-7 shooting), 10 rebounds, and 4 assists.

Miles McBride was terrific as usual — defending, orchestrating, driving, scoring, hitting his 3 — he is now nightly playing with the confidence on offense that he had in G League; 12 points on 5-14 shooting and 3 assists.

With QGrimes out, the Evil Dante, Malachi Flynn, saw minutes early — and played great: 6 points on 2-3 from 3 and a +15 in 12 minutes.

Taj Gibson played 13 minutes with the 2nd team — and did his job.

2. And then the 4th Quarter of Memphis 3’s

This was a romp of romps. Finally a game with no pressure as a fan — you could just sit there with your feet up on the ottoman, with your iced caramel macchiato that the wife just delivered from Starbucks and thoroughly enjoy the play.

Topher spoke for all Knick fans: “I can’t recall the last time I was so relaxed during the Knicks game. Instead of stressing over anything I made some popcorn and just chilled knowing this W is easily in the bag. That’s a good feeling.”

And then it started happening — Memphis 3 after Memphis 3:

  • The Knicks were up by 26 with 8:57 left when David Roddy hit a 3. No biggie.
  • GG Jackson hit a 3 next time down and it was a 20-point lead with 8:20 left. Thibs called a Timeout. That’s our coach.
  • But then GG Jackson blocked an Achiuwa drive and John Konchar hit a 3 and it was a 17-pt game.
  • And then GG Jackson stole a Brunson pass, and fed Jacob Gilyard who hit a 3 and it was a 14-pt game — 103-89 with 7:17 left.

  • Josh Hart hit a free throw to push it back to 15 points, but Jacob Gilyard hit another 3 and it was a 12-pt game.
  • And then Jacob Gilyard hit ANOTHER 3 and it was a 9-pt lead, 104-95 with 6 minutes left.

Brunson Goes Down with Sprained Ankle

  • Jalen Brunson made a technical free throw granted due to a Memphis 3-second violation, but on the ensuing play, sprained his ankle badly and was gone to the locker room.
  • But a free throw by DiVincenzo gave the Knicks some cushion and then a DiVincenzo 3 put the Knicks up 14 again with 5:23 left. Cautious optimism.

Not so fast:

  • GG Jackson scored on a traditional drive, then was fouled next time down and made 1 of 2 free throws and the Grizzlies were still clawing back.
  • Trey Jemison blocked a DiVincenzo shot inside and then dunked down the other end and Memphis was back within 9 with 3:30 left.
  • Achiuwa scored by tipping in an offensive rebound but — David Roddy hit another 3 and it was an 8 pt game with 2:58 left.
  • Josh Hart made free throws but GG Jackson hit ANOTHER 3 and it was a 7-pt game with 2:30 left.
  • GG Jackson blocked McBride drive and David Roddy hit ANOTHER 3 and it was a 4-pt game, 113-109, with 2:05 left. And Brunson remember was gone.

Finally the Knicks Close It Out

  • The Knicks went back to the well — Donte DiVincenzo brought it up court, and NAILED a 3 and NY was back up by 7, 116-109 with 1:44 left.

  • Then Hartenstein returned the block favor — blocking GG Jackson inside, then stealing the ball after Roddy got the offensive rebound. Josh Hart missed a jumper but Precious Achiuwa with the big offensive rebound and dunk. NY 118 Memphis 109 with 1:23 left. Memphis timeout.

DiVincenzo did all the Knick scoring in the final minute — a free throw after a technical foul, a jumper and more free throws after Memphis was forced to foul. He didn’t miss a shot.


It was the 25th Anniversary of Walt Frazier and Mike Breen calling their first game together, and it was celebrated before the game and throughout, as Clyde and Mike told old stories. At one point Bill Bradley joined them on the broadcast and more old stories were told.

The Boxscore

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