If the Knicks are planning a serious uptrend in the Eastern Conference rankings, Friday night’s game started the cheapest route for them.
And their furious comeback with a 133-129 overtime win over the Grizzlies in the garden could only serve as a stepping stone.
Leading scorers Julius Randle and RJ Barrett were mostly invisible for three quarters, but the duo scored 23 points in the fourth quarter and overtime when the Knicks scored a late 13-point Overcame hole. Their hectic comeback allowed the Knicks to win the first of eleven games, which they will play nine times in front of their home fans.
Randle didn’t make his first field goal until 3:16 in the third quarter, but he finished fifth triple-double of the season with 15 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.
Barrett only got five points through three-quarters, but he scored the rest of the way with 15 points, including a late game decision and a 3-pointer with 1:15 in extra time.
Alec Burks scored nine of his 19 points in the extra session, Immanuel Quickley finished with 20 points and Derrick Rose added 19 points off the bench for the Knicks (26-27) who did had lost five of their last six games to drop to eighth playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
Ja Morant finished with 26 points and six assists, while Jonas Valanciunas 20 points with 14 rebounds for the Grizzlies (26- 24) scored.
With the six best teams at each conference, which automatically qualify for the postseason game, and the seventh to tenth places exposed to the box office scenarios, the Knicks face another important matchup at home against the No. 11 Raptors on Sunday.
« You have to win games. One game at a time and take care of the business and the rest will take care of itself, « Barrett said before the game.
» I think you go down the line, the most important thing – you try to make that habit to build from the start of the season, « added coach Tom Thibodeau. « And that’s the trap you fall into – you start to look forward like this. I think every team is currently facing the challenge of creating a shortened schedule. How do you maximize that time?
» At this point in the season, it’s critical to be ready to play and understand what’s in every game. «
Barrett didn’t shred a word when asked if he was keeping an eye on the two players who were playing him preceded in the draft – former college teammates Zion Williamson of the Pelicans and Morant of the Grizzlies.
« My game speaks for itself, » said Barrett. « I mean, you can look at our numbers and the success of our team look at. It doesn’t matter as long as I keep getting better as a player, I’ll be happy. «
While Barrett and Randle scored just six points in two quarters, Rose finished the first half off the bench at 13 in 16 minutes to keep the Knicks within 60-51 at break.
Elfrid Payton returned from an early foul and scored five direct points to bring the deficit down to four (3:38) in the third quarter.
Valanciunas and Morant scored 10 points in a combined 16-7 run to to increase Memphis ‘lead to 13 (84: 71) in the middle of the third quarter.
But the Knicks’ second unit faced another comeback offering with an Obi Toppin Lob Dunk and a Quickley 3-pointer that they Toppin (eight points) added another put-back slam at the start of the fourth.
Randle’s three-point play drew the Knicks within 112-109 by 61 seconds, ahead of Barrett she verba with three free throws with 37 remaining ticks on the clock nd.
A free throw apiece from Morant and Valanciunas gave Memphis a two-minute lead, but Barrett drove on the left and put a short runner in for the tie, 8.8 seconds from the end for overtime force.
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