Oh, basketball, too long have we spent apart.
On Wednesday night, the New York Knicks (0-1) started their season by traveling to the banks of the mighty Mississippi for a match-up with the Memphis Grizzlies (1-0). As the headline says, the Knicks lost the contest 115-112 in overtime.
Julius Randle led the Knicks with 24 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, and two steals in 35 minutes. But your star of the game was the often-maligned Cam Reddish. The big wing dropped 22 points, five rebounds, three steals, and one block in 27 minutes, and hit a corner three to propel the game to overtime.
Noteworthy about the game was that it marked Jalen Brunson’s first official start as a Knick. Truth be told, he flew under the radar for the first three and half quarters. Foul trouble bedeviled him early, limiting him to 13 just minutes by halftime.
Here’s his first bucket on the books:
Brunson in the books ✍️— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 19, 2022
First bucket as a Knick ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/Ww3q3ItILT
Brunson is a crafty ballhandler and, like RJ Barrett, frequently drives to the cup, but the dynamic duo struggled with Steven Adams occupying the paint. Barrett . . . phew. He stunk from end to end in this one. He would finish the game 3-for-18 from the floor with 11 points.
Glad he got that out of his system.
The Knicks came out of the gate with a limp in their gait, going 3-for-13 by the coach’s first timeout at 6:47. Fortunately, Memphis had shot only 3-for-10.
Julius Randle kept the Knicks close in the first, with 3-for-6 shooting and eight points. Here’s a three-point play:
Cam Reddish subbed in for RJ with three minutes remaining in the first. He promptly grabbed a rebound, lost the handle, and dumped the ball off to Tyus Jones for a humiliating layup. Then Cam drained a 25- and a 26-footer. What a perfect encapsulation of the Cam Reddish experience thus far with the club. . . . But, wait. The game was not yet over for the 23-year-old from Norristown, PA.
New York ended the first quarter down only 25-23, thanks to Memphis’s 29% shooting from the floor.
In the first half, Isaiah Hartenstein was dervish on the second unit. Hartenstein works hard—sometimes too hard. He clawed and scraped for offensive boards, threw some precision dimes, and hit a couple of nice floaters, but crashed to the floor quite a bit. Due to Robinson’s foul trouble, Isaiah saw a ton of action and finished the game with 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and one block in a team-leading 40 minutes. He shot 7-for-11 from the field, and 0-for-3 from deep.
Here he dumps a bonkers pass to Obi for money.
Memphis wouldn’t shoot 29% for the whole game. They got hot in the second quarter, fueled by Ja Morant’s 18 first-half points and six assists. While the bears opened up a 15-point lead, the Knicks went 0-for-8 from deep until Evan Fournier finally converted from the corner.
At halftime, the Knicks were down 61-46. For the half, they shot 19-for-57 (33%) from the floor and 5-for-21 (24%) from deep. Compare that to the Grizz’s 22-for-51 (43%) and 11-for-25 (44%). The Grizz outrebounded them, too, 34 to 28. Winning basketball, this was not. RJ Barrett shot particularly bad, going 1-for-9 in his first 19 minutes.
Things got uglier in the third before getting better. The Knicks went down by 19, then finally fought back to cut the deficit to three late in the third. They did the most damage while Morant watched from the bench.
Randle continued to play effectively, piling up the points and boards, and moving well on the defensive end. Here’s his Brahma Bull impression:
In games like this, when Mitch has four fouls early, Hartenstein is a heckuva security blanket.
He was always moving, passing smartly, making his shots, and fighting for boards. Mitch is the better rebounder, but Hartenstein has a great motor and is an asset on offense. Thibs showed more trust in him than Robinson down the stretch tonight.
New York finished the third quarter down 85-79.
Permit me to mix metaphors. . . . This Halloween, I may trick-or-treat as Cam Reddish with my kids. I can’t think of another player who gets buried as if dead, then rises from the grave with some inspiring, funky move that gets me leaping from my chair. Cam contributed huge minutes late in the third and throughout the fourth.
Here Cam goes at the biggest Grizzly on the floor and cashes in:
The Knicks would not relent and with three minutes remaining, Randle threaded a beautiful assist to Brunson to take the lead, 96-95. From there, Memphis and New York went back and forth. This year, the Knicks have Jalen Brunson to lead them late in tightly contested games, and he redeemed a quiet game by hitting the gas in the final minutes of regulation.
The Grizzlies took a four-point lead into the final minute, but Brunson kept finding and circulating the ball, hoping someone could convert. Jalen found Hartenstein twice—once for a missed three, but then a layup and a free throw. That put the Knicks within one with 28 seconds left.
Morant got the ball and converted a difficult shot off the glass with 8 seconds to go. Who could the Knicks rely on to tie the game with a three-pointer? Cam Reddish, of course. From the corner:
sorry for the delay. we can't stop watching this play. pic.twitter.com/SeXSYwao6Y— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 20, 2022
Three seconds is more than enough time for Morant to fly from mid-court to the rim. But Jalen Brunson planted his feet in the paint and caught a face-full of Ja to draw the offensive charge.
Brunson kept working and Morant played his foil throughout the bonus frame. Hartenstein must have been gassed, but the guy never faltered. Reddish kept humming, too, although an ill-advised, early in the shot clock, 26-foot brick resulted in a costly defensive rebound. Once again, the Knicks were down by three with seconds left. This time, Fournier got the ball, but couldn’t hit the shot that Cam made five minutes earlier.
Time expired. Your final: 115-112, Grizzlies.
- Truth: Who would have guessed that Randle and Reddish would be the team leaders tonight? Not me, kids.
- The Knicks won the battle for points in the paint, 68 to 48.
- Twice tonight (by my count) Obi cut along the baseline, caught a pass beneath the rim, and immediately tried to kick it back to the trailing center. Hartenstein converted a wide-open floater. Mitch flubbed the ball and lost it. It’s a great play, drawing the defenders to the lob-threat Obi and freeing Mitch or Hart for the easy bucket. More of that, please, Mr. Thibs.
- Santi Aldama (6’11”, 224 lbs), of Spain and the Loyola Greyhounds, was the 30th pick in the 2021 Draft. Playing power forward tonight, he finished with an impressive 18 points, and 11 boards in 39 minutes. The Grizz have a player there.
- With Julius playing well, Obi Toppin’s minutes were limited to just 13 tonight. He was overlooked a few times in the first half, and in the second, he couldn’t find a rhythm. Obi spelled Randle for a few minutes in the fourth but came out again after some ineffective offensive work. He’ll have a better game on Friday against Detroit.
- Before the game, Steven Adams (6’11”, 265 lbs) responded to Tom Thibodeau’s claim that Mitchell Robinson is NBA’s best offensive rebounder, saying, “Probably, yeah probably. The dude’s really good, man. Positioning, tipped balls all that. He’s solid.” All that positive talk jinxed the Lobness Monster. Mitch finished the game with five fouls, four points, two rebounds, and two blocks in 13 minutes.
- The Grizzlies’ floor announcer sounds like a hungover Rodney Dangerfield eating a peanut butter sandwich. Made me happy.
Quoth Good names all taken: “Holy Cam Reddish.” Aye, I concur. The next game is on Friday, a home opener against the Detroit Pistons. Very winnable game. Can’t wait.