Tim Hardaway Jr rises, he shoots. Swoosh. 93-91 Knicks. 1:04 remains in the game (a game in which the Grizzlies led by 18 in the first half).
“Not so fast!” Mike Miller exclaims. He let’s a three ball fly from the top of the key … NOTHING BUT NET! Grizzlies lead 94-93. Fedex Forum is elated. :20 sec timeout Knicks.
It feels like a playoff game. The music is turned up. 17,317 (mostly) Grizzlies’ fans rise to their feet. Super Grizz comes out pumping up the crowd. Rick Trotter growls “Grrrrrriiiiiiiiiizzzzzzzzllllliieessss fans…” The video board rolls “whatever comes through those door…this is where we fight…” This is the moment.
The ball is inbounded. “Defense. Defense. Defense.” the crowd chants.
Prigioni dumps the ball down to Carmelo Anthony who backs down Tayshaun Prince. Melo rises to shoot. Prince allows no shot. ‘Melo kicks to JR Smith for a right corner three…….. nothing but air? NOTHING BUT AIR!
Grizzlies’ fans go nuts. Mike Conley grabs the rebound. He is fouled by Chandler. Conley sinks his two free throws. 96-93 Grizzlies lead, :21.4 left. It appears the Grizzlies will escape, but there’s one last shot for the Knicks.
No one sits. The decibel level is deafening.
Mike Conley is switched onto Tim Hardaway Jr for defense. Hardaway Jr gets the ball. He rises for a three. MISS. ‘Melo grabs the ball, passes out to Felton, who dishes it to a wide open Prigioni for the three to tie……..
MISS. The 21st miss of the night from downtown for the Knicks (6-27).
Lee rebounds the ball, is fouled, hits his two free throws and *BOOM* the streamer cannons pop.
EVERYBODY’S HANDS GO UP! (and heart rates go down)
That is how the Grizzlies survived the first game of a thirty game season towards the playoffs.
Your Memphis Grizzlies move to 30-23 on the 82 game season. 1-0 in the 30 game shortened playoff run season.
The New York Knickerbockers move to 20-33 on the season.
This game was a tale of two halves. The first half, the Grizzlies made shots (21-40, 53%), and the Knicks did not (14-41, 34%). Tayshaun Prince started out on fire, going 3-3 with 6 points in the first quarter and locked down Carmelo Anthony on defense, holding him to 1 first quarter point and 0-5 from the field. (Take THAT Wojnarowski.) Carmelo would end up with 9 points by the end of the first half and the Knicks shot a poor 0-9 from the three point line. In addition, the Grizzlies had 14 assists on 21 made baskets. Grizzlies led, 50-37 at the break.
But you just felt like something was going to change in the second half. Surely, the Knicks would not keep missing wide open shots and the Grizzlies would not get 42% of their points off jumpers.
Right on cue, the Knicks came charging out of the gate in the second half hitting 6 of their first 8 shots and closing a 13 point halftime lead down to 3. The Grizzlies were sucking, on the other hand, missing 6 of their first 8 shots. James Johnson, Courtney Lee and Mike Conley all struggled from the field, combining for 8 made baskets on 25 shots. Johnson was playing too aggressive on defense and foul trouble limited his playing time. It may have been the worst game for (insert your fav James Johnson nickname here) in a Grizzlies uniform.
The 3rd quarter would end with the Knicks closing the lead to 2, 66-64, and holding the Grizzlies to only 16 third quarter points. The Grizzlies shot 7-20 from the field, and allowed the Knicks to shoot 10-20 in the quarter.
Stoudemire started the 4th quarter with a jumper to tie the game at 66. Nick Calathes then led six straight points for the Grizzlies. However, James Johnson would commit his 5th personal foul and allow a 4-pt play by Tim Hardaway Jr, sparking a 16-4 Knicks run that gave the New York a 82-76 lead with 6:17 remaining.
Over the final 6 minutes of the game, the Grizzlies would score 22 points and allow 11 to the Knicks. Mike Conley led the charge going 6-8 from the free throw line and 2 of 3 from the field scoring 10 fourth quarter points. Mike Miller came up strong with his best game in a Grizzlies uniform this season, going 3-4 from three point land in the 4th, ending the night with 19 points (7-11 FG, 5-7 3P).
Key to the game: The Grizzlies converted all 5 of the Knicks 4th quarter turnovers into 10 points. However, the Knicks only scored 2 points off the Grizzlies 4 fourth quarter turnovers.
Tonight was a very gritty comeback for the Grizzlies. It’s the type of come from behind win against a team with two All Stars that breeds confidence in the team as well as the crowd. I look at it as practice for those games in April and May.
Every one of the Grizzlies played a role in the game. All ten players who saw the court, scored as well as grabbed a rebound. I didn’t take the time to look, but I wonder when the last time that happened.
Tayshaun Prince played 39 minutes. This is the most minutes he has played since the March 29, 2013 game against Houston where he played 40 minutes.
Dave Joerger’s lineups still confuse me. I know we can excuse it away with “injuries” but I really don’t think injuries is the issue. I think he just plays weird rotations. Get used to it.
The next game the Grizzlies play will be post trade deadline. This *could be* the last game this team plays together. However, in my humble opinion, I don’t see anything happening.