Fri, 03 Feb 2023

Knicks look for better defensive showing vs. Grizzlies

Field Level Media
27 Nov 2022, 11:19 GMT+10

For the New York Knicks, home is not where their defense is.

But Madison Square Garden is where the high-powered Memphis Grizzlies will be Sunday night when the Knicks are slated to close out a two-game homestand by hosting the Grizzlies.

Both teams were off Saturday after playing at home Friday. The Knicks squandered a 14-point first-half lead and fell to the Portland Trail Blazers, 132-129, in overtime. The Grizzlies never trailed in a 132-111 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Knicks opened their home schedule with a pair of strong defensive efforts in a 130-106 win over the Detroit Pistons and a 115-102 victory over the Orlando Magic. But New York has given up at least 130 points in four of its last six home games after surrendering at least 130 points just three times -- anywhere -- in the first two seasons under defensive-minded head coach Tom Thibodeau.

The loss Friday was particularly discouraging for the Knicks, who didn't have to face Trail Blazers superstar guard Damian Lillard (right calf strain) but were victimized instead by the trio of Jerami Grant, Anfernee Simons and Josh Hart.

Grant scored a career-high 44 points while Simons added 38 points, tied for the second-most he's scored in a single game. Hart pulled down six offensive rebounds, tied for his career-high, on his way to finishing with a career-high 19 rebounds.

"We took a step back," Knicks center Mitchell Robinson told reporters Friday night. "Our defense, we allowed guys to get in the paint, stuff like that. We got to be better."

The task could be even tougher on both ends of the floor Sunday night for the Knicks, who announced Saturday that Jalen Brunson is questionable for the game due to a quad contusion. Brunson scored a season-high 34 points in a 129-119 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night before leading New York with 32 points Friday night.

The Grizzlies unveiled a balanced attack Friday, when they finished just shy of their season-high for points in a single game. Memphis, which beat the Brooklyn Nets 134-124 on Oct. 24, entered Saturday averaging 115.1 points per game, eighth-most in the NBA.

Six players scored in double figures Friday for the Grizzlies, led by star guard Ja Morant, who is playing through a Grade 1 left ankle sprain. Morant finished with a double-double (23 points, 11 assists) despite playing just 28 minutes. He missed the Grizzlies' 127-115 loss to the Nets on Nov. 20 due to the injury but has scored 57 points while shooting 54.1 percent from the field in his last two games.

Steven Adams (15 points, 11 rebounds) also had a double-double for the Grizzlies on Friday night while Dillon Brooks (25 points), Jaren Jackson Jr. (20 points), Brandon Clarke (12 points) and David Roddy (11 points) also reached double figures.

"Definitely a really solid win by our group," Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said afterward. "Lot of guys contributed tonight on both ends."

--Field Level Media

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