Randle scores 24 to lead Knicks over short-handed Grizzlies
The Knicks controlled the boards against the smaller Grizzlies. The Knicks outrebounded Memphis 56-35 with Isaiah Hartenstein matching his career-high with 20 boards. The rebounding helped offset 23 New York turnovers .
“It wasn't a great game for us in general,” Hartenstein said. “The second half was better, but we need to play better. I actually feel like the first half was embarrassing.”
The Knicks created some distance in the third quarter when they picked up the defensive pressure. That resulted in a 24-8 rally midway through the period, and the Knicks outscoring Memphis 30-15 in the quarter. That was enough to weather small runs by Memphis in the final period. The Grizzlies got no closer than eight points down the stretch.
“I thought the defense picked up in the second half. But our turnovers were problematic. Then we settled down and got better shots,” said Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau, who recorded his 500th career win with the victory.
Memphis continues to deal with a series of injuries that has cut deep into the team's rotation. Over the last week, leading scorer Ja Morant had season-ending shoulder surgery, and Marcus Smart's injury to his right ring finger will keep him out at least six weeks. Then, Friday night in a loss to the Clippers, Desmond Bane, the team's second-leading scorer, suffered a sprained ankle and was on crutches Saturday night.
Jaren Jackson Jr. sat out against Knicks with a right knee contusion. That meant eight Memphis players, most of them significant contributors, were out against New York, including the team’s top five scorers.
“I loved how our guys competed,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “Obviously, in the third quarter, a few too many turnovers that led to their run and the ability to get back in the game and take the lead.”
As for the Knicks, they were without Brunson, the team's leading scorer at 25.8 points a game, who is dealing with a left calf contusion. His absence had some bearing on Memphis taking a 57-53 lead at the half as the Grizzlies benefited from 14 New York turnovers.
Randle said “it's always an adjustment” when there are different combinations in the game, especially someone as critical to the Knicks offense as Brunson.
“It was just a sluggish game,” Randle said. "It was all around sloppy, but we found a way to get the win, and that's what matters"."
Knicks: Host Orlando on Monday.
Grizzlies: Host Golden State on Monday night.
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