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Knicks 111, Grizzlies 104: ‘81-1 here we come’

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The Knicks held off Memphis for their first win of the season.

Memphis Grizzlies v New York Knicks Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

It’s not hard to see why the Knicks have struggled in recent years against the Memphis Grizzlies. Their relentless, defense-heavy style is not the kind of environment New York traditionally thrives in. Memphis shook off a poor start and managed to impose their slow pace on the Knicks in the second half, but a stellar first quarter and a critical 12-0 run in the fourth propelled New York to a 111-104 win in their home opener. It was their first win over the Grizzlies since the 2012-13 season — in other words, back when the Knicks were good.

To the notes!

  • Kristaps Porzingis spent the summer working on his lower body, and that is clearly helping him finish around the rim. Per Ian Begley:

Kristaps Porzingis said offseason work on his lower half helped him finish that 2nd-half dunk in transition contested by Andrew Harrison: "I wanted to go off of two legs and go strong to the basket. And I was able to get to the rim with him trying to foul me."

The play in question:

Porzingis’s work around the basket made all the difference in this game — he scored 21 points on 7-11 shooting thanks to some deft finishing and foul-drawing (8 free throw attempts). Kristaps also finished the game without a turnover, which hopefully means he’s improving on keeping the ball from getting stripped. Strong Kristaps is the best Kristaps.

  • Maybe it just takes Derrick Rose a while to get warmed up. Rose raised his game a couple of notches in the third quarter yet again — 11 of his 13 points game in the second half. They were critical buckets, too — the Grizz clamped down hard on D in the second half, yet Rose was able to slice and bludgeon his way to the rim when the team really needed it. That being said, 13 points on 13 shots isn’t great. And he still isn’t finding Porzingis, which is the main thing you’d like to see a Knicks point guard do.
  • I think it’s fair to say that “Why ain’t I getting calls?” Melo is the very worst version of Carmelo Anthony. Melo bitched at the refs, drew an early tech, and spent much of the rest of the game trying desperately to draw the fouls he thought he was due. Most players take it to the rim more often when they’re getting the calls; Melo takes it strong more often when he isn’t getting calls, which is both paradoxical and frustrating as hell. That being said, he righted the ship in the end, and Memphis’ foul-happy endgame strategy gave him all the free throws he could ever hope for.
  • Joakim Noah is good, y’all. The dude from Hell’s Kitchen dropped the incredibly Noah-esque line of 6 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 6 fouls in 21 minutes. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Knicks center drop so many dimes:

As expected, the combination of Noah and the MSG crowd was a potent mix, with chants of “JOA-KIM NO-AH” raining down on several occasions.

Listen to this interview and try not to love this guy. I dare you!

  • Courtney Lee certainly bounced back from Tuesday’s oh-fer. The Knicks shooting guard scored 16 points and was solid as hell, which led to yet another weirdly passive-aggressive comment from Marc Berman:

I kind of hope this goes on throughout the season.

  • Justin Holiday (8 points) was similarly solid. I’d take 24 combined points from New York shooting guards every day of the week. Holiday got more minutes than any other Knicks reserve, which speaks to the amount of trust he has already earned.
  • Brandon Jennings took four shots, all of them from beyond the arc — 2 makes and 2 air-balls. I guess the ends justify the means. One thing he continues to do well is find Porzingis — 2 of his 3 assists were to Kristaps. Hopefully the Unicorn spends some more time with the reserves, where he really gets a chance to shine on offense.
  • Kyle O’Quinn cannot protect the rim. That is all.
  • The team celebrated it’s 70th anniversary at halftime. Nearly all the Knicks legends were on hand. But Clyde stole the show, as always:

As P&T’er Porzingasm said, the Knicks are well on their way to an 81-1 season. Next stop: Detroit on Tuesday night.