Julius Randle and Derrick Rose propelled the Knicks to a convincing win against the Memphis Grizzlies. The win clinched a winning record, which New York hasn’t finished a season with since 2013.

The New York Knicks’ (37-28) second road-trip stop came on the second night of a back-to-back against the Memphis Grizzlies (32-32), who they narrowly beat in early April to kick off their nine-game win streak. With a final score of 118-104, the Knicks won their third straight game and clinched their first winning record in eight years.

Two Knicks had the knack tonight. Julius Randle scored a game-high 28 points and added six rebounds and six assists. Derrick Rose scored a season-high 25 points on 11-of-15 shooting. For Memphis, Dillon Brooks led them with 25 points, 16 of which came in the second half. Desmond Bane posted 22 points and eight boards. Jonas Valanciunas recorded 15 rebounds, 11 points, and three blocks.

Randle, though he had another strong game, couldn’t find any rhythm following a dominant performance in Houston in the early minutes of this contest. He opted to put his back to the basket on the overwhelming majority of his touches rather than face up, allowing the feisty Memphis defenders to contest on every shot closely. Randle shot 1-of-7 in the first quarter but also dished out four assists.

In his second shift, Randle got himself in tune. An impossible-angle triple kicked off a series of buckets from the first-time All-Star. He played looser from that point on and capped off his reinvigorating second half with a buzzer-beating step-back triple.

New York found some success pushing the pace early on by Derrick Rose got the Knicks offense going. He made his first four shots and generated ball movement of which Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley took advantage. The three backups collectively shot 5-for-6 from beyond the arc, helping the Knicks push their lead to double digits on multiple occasions.

Quickley fired (and hit) shots from deep while Burks moved and grooved into his spots and found the bottom of the net like clockwork. Not to be outdone, Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. each posted 11 points in the first half for the Grizzlies. Jackson Jr., who was still recovering from an injury in the last Knicks-Grizzlies matchup, went 3-for-3 from deep.

After a low-scoring opening quarter, the Knicks put up 44 second-quarter points to take an 11-point halftime lead. Rose had a game-high 15 points at the half, Randle recorded 13 and the Knicks made 11 first-half threes in 18 attempts. New York opened the game missing their first four shots, struggled to find open looks, and committed intentional fouls instead of getting back on defense early on. Whatever fatigue they initially had, they shook right off and posted their highest-scoring quarter of the season.

The Grizzlies, though, aren’t the type of team to roll over and die. They clawed their way back to a single-digit deficit with 11 points from Brooks in five minutes. Memphis got out on the fast break and fought for offensive rebounds repeatedly. Elfrid Payton helped ignite some offense for New York, blowing by Ja Morant time after time to get into the paint, where he was able to find the hoop and open teammates. The ‘Bockers pushed their lead back to 12 off a Randle-assisted dunk from R.J. Barrett.

Rose and Quickley subbing back into the game only made things easier for the Knicks, who held the Grizzlies scoreless for the final 2:39 of the third quarter. The lead grew to 17 points entering the final frame.

Bane kept things interesting by sinking two triples right away in the fourth quarter, forcing an Angry Thibs timeout. The Grizzlies couldn’t capitalize on other chances, allowing the Knicks to maintain a double-digit advantage. But they couldn’t push their lead further, as their offense went ice cold. Through five fourth-quarter minutes, New York tallied just two points.

Memphis grinned the lead down to five points with eight consecutive points as the Knicks continued to suffer from their offensive cold spell, shooting 2-of-12 to start the fourth quarter. Randle and Rose went to work and scored clutch buckets. No one could stop Rose, whose crafty and quick handles allowed him to do whatever he wanted. Some free throws granted to New York from Memphis technical fouls helped them put the game out of reach.

Burks’ buckets back

Alec Burks returned from an eight-game absence, getting right back to his bucket-getting ways as if he never left. He didn’t provide his usual fourth-quarter heroics, but he was a key factor in the Knicks second-quarter explosion.

In 16 minutes, Burks finished with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting.

No-el, no problem

Nerlens Noel’s left ankle sprain left the Knicks thinner at the center position. Taj Gibson started and showed veteran toughness, blocking three shots in the first quarter. He did also commit two fouls in the opening period, though. Valanciunas’ physical play style will do that. Although he almost had a double-double in the first half, Gibson didn’t let it come easy. He finished with 12 rebounds, six points, and five blocks, which he hasn’t recorded in a single game since the 2015–16 season.

Norvel Pelle served as the reserve big man, which was a key role given Gibson’s foul trouble. In 15 minutes, he contributed three blocks.

The Knicks return to action Wednesday night against MVP favorite Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.

 

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