The day the New York Knicks start winning the games that they’re supposed to win on the road is also most likely the day that the apocalypse will arrive.
Only the Knicks could make the sorry Memphis Grizzlies, one the worst teams in the association, look like the Monstars from Space Jam for three quarters, only to start playing competent basketball in the fourth quarter while still managing to fall short.
New York fell behind early and trailed by 11 at the half, despite receiving 18 first half points from Enes Kanter. Kanter would finish with 20 points on 7-11 shooting, despite not playing in the fourth quarter.
The third quarter was more of the same as Memphis outscored the Knicks 27-20 and held a 15 point lead at the end of period. However, the Knicks did end the quarter on a 13-6 run and had the clear advantage in momentum heading into the final quarter.
The Grizzlies lead was cut to one possession on multiple occasions in the fourth, but the home side got key buckets late in the contest from Dillon Brooks and Tyreke Evans to hold off the New York rally and seal the victory.
Now, the officiating at the end of this game was suspect to say the least, as Kristaps Porzingis got called for a phantom foul on a block out, and Courtney Lee was given one of the softest technical fouls I’ve seen all season with the Knicks trailing by three with 18 seconds remaining. However, I honestly find it hard to complain too much about the refs when you fell behind by 18 against a Grizzlies team without Marc Gasol and Mike Conley Jr.
—Once again, Porzingis had himself another solid game tonight. The unicorn finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and a career-high seven blocks in a losing effort. It’s still disappointing to see that he isn’t getting the calls that other stars in the league get, especially down the stretch in close games. That being said, he’s put together a nice string of performances in these last few contests.
—Tim Hardaway Jr. was active for this game and had a pretty decent outing. Timmy played 26 minutes and put up 16 points and four rebounds on 5-10 shooting and hit a pair of threes late in the contest to tighten the score.
—Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for the two New York point guards. Fresh off what was arguably his best all-around performance of the season on Monday, Frank Ntilikina failed to score against the Grizzlies, shooting 0-6 including four misses from beyond the arc. The rookie did have a decent night passing the basketball, finishing with seven assists and three turnovers. His veteran teammate, Jarret Jack, didn’t fare much better than the French Prince. Jack posted just two points and eight assists on the night in 28 minutes on game action.
—Last but not least, basketball twitter had a field day with the “controversial” Courtney Lee technical that ultimately put the game out of reach.
Not just Courtney Lee getting a T because Derrick Stafford wanted to decide the game, but on a jump ball violation the ball is supposed to go to the other team. Instead it was re-done. Bravo, NBA officials...— Jason Smith (@howaboutafresca) January 18, 2018
Listen, I get it. You’ve got to keep a noted bad boy and chaos agent like Courtney Lee in check.— Dan Devine (@YourManDevine) January 18, 2018
Here’s Lee’s explanation of what went down:
C-Lee after words with Dillon Brooks got him T'd up: "The rookie grabbed my arm. I said, 'Get off me.' He said some other words. I said, 'Look you got the wrong one, Rook. You got the wrong one, young’un. He said, 'Who are you?' I said, 'You know who I am.' And then I get a tech.— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) January 18, 2018
And here’s the ref’s side of the story. YOU BE THE JUDGE:
From the NBA, here is the referee’s explanation of the Courtney Lee technical foul: pic.twitter.com/hrQD736iaM— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) January 18, 2018
Now the Knick head further west, to Utah and L.A. and the like. Godspeed.