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Scenes from withstanding a Grizzly comeback on Clyde and Breen night

Knicks 123, Grizzlies 103: Donte DiVincenzo scores 32, Jalen Brunson nets 27 before turning his ankle, and Josh Hart rates +18 to hold off the short-handed Memphis.

Memphis Grizzlies v New York Knicks Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Tonight at Madison Square Garden, the visiting Memphis Grizzlies (18-33) were missing at least ten players. Their first five consisted of Santi Aldama, Trey Jemison, John Konchar, Jacob Gilyard, and Vince Williams, Jr. The New York Knicks (33-18) lacked guys of their own, too—Julius Randle (shoulder), OG Anunoby (elbow), Quentin Grimes (knee), Jericho Sims (illness), and, of course, Mitchell Robinson (ankle)—but through three quarters, this contest looked to be one of New York’s easiest wins of the season.

Shooting 64% from the field and moving the ball beautifully, New York scored their second-most first-half points of the season. Although the Grizzlies shot well—51% from the field, 57% from deep—the Knicks beat them up and down the score sheet through three quarters. Then the wheels started to come off in the fourth as Memphis cut a once-28-point margin to four, and Jalen Brunson (27 points) sustained a worrisome ankle injury. Donte DiVincenzo (32 points on 12-of-18 shooting) contributed timely buckets and leadership, however, and our heroes at last landed the plane successfully, 123-113.

In the contest, the Knicks logged their season’s second-most totals for assists (28) and steals (11). They benefited from strong contributions from Josh Hart (10 points, 10 rebounds, 37 minutes), Isaiah Hartenstein (17 points, nine boards, three blocks), and Precious Achiuwa (17 points, five boards, three steals, 40 minutes). Miles McBride, too, chipped in 12 points in his 31 minutes.

The MSG telecast recognized the 25th anniversary of their dynamic play-by-play commentators, Mike Breen and Walt “Clyde” Frazier. The best in the business:

First Half

The Knicks kicked off the game with a 12-2 run. Smooth sailing, as expected. Jalen Brunson scored 17 points in the first frame. With Jericho Sims missing the contest due to illness, the Knicks required the services of the ageless Taj Gibson, who checked in around the four-minute mark to relieve Isaiah Hartenstein. New York finished the frame 33-24, thanks to this buzzer beater from JB.

The Knicks started the second quarter with a 19-4 run. Three-pointers from Josh Hart, Miles McBride, and Malachi Flynn opened up a 25-point lead, and their advantage would reach 28-points before intermission. The game was so loose, Clyde and sideline guest, his former teammate the legendary Knick Bill Bradley, swapped stories while the current Knicks electrocuted their houseguests, e.g., twice steaking the ball and dunking in the span of 14 seconds.

With excellent ball-distribution, the Knicks had logged 20 assists in the first half. Impressive, considering they average 23.9 per game, and their game-high this season is 29. Barely breaking a sweat, they were ahead 70-46 at halftime.

The Knicks had feasted against their depleted opponent. New York had shot 64% from the field (28-of-44) and 53% from deep (8-of-15). They had out-rebounded the visitors (20-13), and won the points in the paint (40-16) and fast-break points (13-4). The Bockers had converted 11 Grizzly turnovers into 13 points.

With 13 points, Vince Williams, Jr. led Memphis through two quarters. Brunson had 19 for New York. Your first-half shot chart:

Second Half

Coming out of intermission, the Grizzlies shows signs of life, but quickly fell behind by 28 again. Free of compelling basketball to distract them, Breen and Clyde aired out a fair bit of chitting and chatting. Even just shooting the breeze, those guys are the GOATS.

In the third period, the Knicks shooting cooled just slightly, making one of five longball attempts. The Grizzlies had shot well from deep—12-of-23 from downtown through 36 minutes—but New York had destroyed them in the paint. The most the Knicks have scored through three quarters this season is 100 points, against Atlanta last October. They finished tonight’s third up, 97-74.

Ya gotta play all 48 minutes, folks. Those pesky Bears kept pushing in the final frame. On an 18-1 run, they hit three unanswered triples (GG Jackson, Konchar, and Gilyard) and then two more from Gilyard to cut their deficit to nine points by the six-minute mark. While the Knicks tried to make sense of what was happening on the scoreboard, Jalen Brunson rolled his ankle at the 5:30 mark and, although he tried to walk it off, he ultimately retreated to the locker room for attention.

Donte DiVincenzo swished from downtown to restore some breathing room, but the Grizz crashed the boards and made nine triples in the quarter to cut their deficit to four points with two minutes remaining. (They made 21 treys overall.) DiVo answered with a desperately needed three, and Precious Achiuwa contributed an O-board tip-in to go up by nine. With Jalen in the locker room, DiVo took the reins and guided the team to victory.

Up Next

The Dallas Mavericks ride their ponies into town for a tussle on Thursday. Prayers up for all our injured players, especially Jalen’s ankle. Sleep well, Knickerbockers.

Box Score