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Recap: Grizzlies Outlast Knicks 118-114

Ja Morant took over in Memphis to lift the Grizzlies to a late win.

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NBA: New York Knicks at Memphis Grizzlies Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks came to Memphis for their seventh straight road game and left with a 118-114 loss led by Ja Morant’s 37 points and Jaren Jackson Jr.’s late game defensive dominance.

The game was going to be physical throughout, and the Grizzlies threw the first punch. Getting to the rim was top priority for Memphis who started out with a lob to Jackson Jr. for the first bucket of the game followed by a Morant put-back dunk off of a Desmond Bane miss.

While Memphis was determined to get to the basket early in the game, the Knicks hung around with their three point shooting.

New York went 5-10 from deep and drew two fouls on three pointers in the quarter. Julius Randle led the way for the Knicks early with 15 points, while going 3-4 from three to make the score 34-30 Memphis after the first.

With Ja Morant on the bench New York would open the second period with a 10-2 run to take the lead until a Jaren Jackson Jr. three on one end and a drawn charge on the other helped the Grizzlies regain momentum.

Ja Morant would re-enter the game at the 6 minute mark, quickly scoring from the mid range to help the Grizzlies open up the lead to 52-41.

Despite getting most of their work done inside, the Grizzlies would not make their first free throw until 4:20 remaining in the second quarter while the Knicks had already gone 10-14 from the charity stripe.

Somehow, the Knicks outscored the Grizzlies 34-23 from the three point and free throw line and Memphis still held a 61-56 lead at the half. A true testament to the strength of this team being efficient from two with a strong interior defense.

Coming out of the break the Knicks would punch back. Julius Randle continued his hot start through the third quarter reaching 30 points while drawing a fourth foul on Jaren Jackson Jr. early in the quarter.

The early foul trouble for Jackson is nothing new for the Grizzlies big man but his frustration carried over to the offensive end only scoring 7 points while failing to get to the line at all through three quarters.

NBA: New York Knicks at Memphis Grizzlies Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson’s offensive struggles were not his alone, the Grizzlies entered one of their patented offensive slumps as they were outscored 40-26 in the third quarter making it 96-87 New York with one quarter to play.

Entering the final period felt like the 12th round of a heavyweight fight where the Grizzlies had been taking rabbit punches to the kidney in the clinch all night long complete with multiple stoppages for blood and rolled ankles.

Morant would start the quarter on the bench but upon re-entering finished in traffic to cut the Knicks lead to just five and force a timeout.

His running mate Jaren Jackson Jr. would then ignite the crowd with a massive block on Mitchell Robinson, his fourth of five total blocks in the game, leading to a John Konchar layup to finish off a 9-1 run and cut the lead to just three.

The Grizzlies would regain the lead on a Morant left hander before giving up a quick transition three forcing an incensed Coach Jenkins to take a timeout.

Morant, the leading paint scorer in the league, would continue to get downhill. Taking over late, Ja scored 11 of the final 13 points for the Grizzlies with a combination of layups, floaters and free throws to finish with 37 points in the win.

Observations

  • JJJ has to stop fouling. Jackson Jr. drew a tough assignment tonight, guarding Julius Randle for the majority of the game who had been averaging 26.2 points per game on 45% shooting over his past five games. Randle scored 11 of his 36 points tonight at the free throw line as he continued to go right at Jackson putting him in foul trouble. The real issue with Jackson’s fouling is when it takes him out of his offensive game like it had through three quarters tonight. Give Jackson credit though, he put his frustrations aside and responded with a huge defensive fourth quarter that allowed the Grizzlies to regain momentum and eventually the lead.
  • The two-big lineups may be trouble. Looking at the Boston lineup seen last week and New York’s lineup tonight, I’ve seen the stretch four-true center lineups give the Grizzlies some trouble. An ancient Al Horford went for 21 points for the Celtics and Julius Randle scored 36 tonight in Memphis. This could be a result of the opposing four man dragging Jackson away from the rim and limiting his ability to help on defense. This really becomes a concern looking forward to a possible first round matchup with the Denver Nuggets who start Nikola Jokic and Aaron Gordon. Gordon is not a knock down shooter by any means but has to be respected from the corner and this could lead to more one on one matchups for Denver’s reigning MVP. Something to monitor going forward.
  • I miss February Jitty. In the month of February John Konchar averaged 18 minutes per game and shot 45.2% from three. Since March, Konchar has yet to make a single three pointer and is averaging 16 minutes per game. He has clearly been working to regain his confidence since returning from an injury but has at times looked lost on the floor. Tonight, we saw the old Konchar we all fell in love with, not really contributing to the offense but diving after every loose ball and fighting for rebounds. As Dillon Brooks is reintegrated into the team, Konchar could be the odd man out come playoff time when just a few weeks ago his shooting looked to be a new weapon for the Grizzlies offense.

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