The Knicks took Ja Morant and the Grizzlies to the wire in a thrilling season opener, but their porous perimeter defense allowed Memphis to win the contest. 

After a strong preseason showing, the Knicks traveled to Memphis for their season opener against Ja Morant and company. But, New York suffered from poor rebounding and lackluster perimeter defense, allowing Memphis to eke out a narrow victory.

Reigning MIP winner Ja Morant got any shot he wanted, finishing the game with 34 points. The Knicks, on the other hand, had a rough offensive showing in the opener, shooting 40% from the field and an abysmal 24% from three. New York trailed by as much as 19 in this game.

Despite all their issues, the Knicks rallied back to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Cam Reddish was a significant reason why. He  finished with 22 points off the bench—16 in the second half—and even hit a clutch three to tie the game at 108 with just three seconds remaining. The performance came as a shock after his mediocre preseason.

The Knicks followed that up with Jalen Brunson taking a key charge on Morant that prevented a game winning shot. The extra time was relatively low scoring on both sides, but a three from Tyus Jones allowed the Grizzlies to edge out the victory.

The Knicks second half resurgence may have overshadowed their defensive lapses, but it’s easy to look at the numbers and say that their defensive efforts lost them the game. The Grizzlies were relentless on the glass all night, winning the rebound battle 64-54. Though New York failed to secure some key defensive rebounds late down the stretch, perimeter defense was the true issue. They gave up 17 threes, including Jones’ overtime dagger.

R.J. Barrett struggled mightily, scoring just 11 points on 3-17 shooting from the field in 38 minutes. Thankfully for RJ, this is only game 1 of 82. A silver lining is his former Duke teammate. Cam Reddish was not supposed to see many minutes. But, with Quentin Grimes (foot) unable to play, he put together an excellent showing, adding 5 rebounds and 3 steals to his 22 points. Could Tom Thibodeau alter the rotation after this pleasant surprise from Cam Reddish?

Despite the season opener loss, another bright spot for New York was Julius Randle. After a disappointing 21-22 campaign, Randle started the 22-23 season with a bang, finishing with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists. His ability to play off of Jalen Brunson (9 assists) allowed him to score almost at will.


  • Isaiah Hartenstein had a strong Knicks debut with 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists in a whopping 40 minutes of play. He was also the only bench player for the Knicks to post a positive box plus/minus at +1. Hartenstein’s minutes came because of Mitchell Robinson’s foul trouble.
  • After offseason scuttlebutt that Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin would see expanded roles this season, the two youngsters combined for 2 points in just 30 minutes of action. It will be interesting to see if they get more minutes in the coming weeks.
  • After some poor early shooting, Jalen Brunson turned up the heat late in the game. He scored two clutch baskets late in the fourth quarter. Brunson finished with 15 points on 7-of-18 shooting in his Knicks debut.
  • Despite poor shooting from the field and from behind the arc, the Knicks capitalized on their opportunities at the free throw line, shooting 83% (15-for-18) at the charity stripe.

The Knicks will look to win their first game of the season in the home opener against the Detroit Pistons on Friday, October 21st. A bounce back night for R.J. Barrett and Mitchell Robinson seems imminent after a poor performance tonight at the FedEx Forum.

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