Jalen Brunson’s late-game heroics fell just short as the Grizzlies held onto a tightly-contested fourth quarter to clench a four-point win.

The New York Knicks fell to the Memphis Grizzlies, with a final score of 127-123 on Sunday night at The World’s Most Famous Arena. For New York, Jalen Brunson led the way with a game-high 30 points and nine assists. This was Brunson’s third straight 30-point game of the season. RJ Barrett added 22 points and 7 rebounds, keeping his composure around the rim for some sweet finishes and knocking some much-needed jumpers to get him back to the rhythm. For the Grizzlies, MVP candidate Ja Morant showed yet again why he deserves to be in the conversation for the award, finishing with a triple-double: 27 points, 10 rebounds, 14 assists, and the go-ahead bucket.

Coming into the game, it was uncertain what to expect from this one, with Jalen Brunson (contused thigh) announced as a game-time decision heading into Sunday night’s play. Thankfully for the Knicks, it wasn’t enough of an issue for him to sit out, as he made the start. Following back-to-back 30-point games, Brunson’s presence was a major factor if the New York wanted a shot at winning against the proven grit and grind Grizzlies.

The first half was extremely entertaining, with the home team keeping this one interesting. It was a game of runs to begin the game, as Tom Thibodeau had already rolled out 11 players by the end of the first quarter, doing their best to quell Ja Morant and company by throwing various different players at them. Heading into the locker room, it was a close one with the Knicks down by just two points, 54-52. Check out this nice first-half dish from Brunson that led to a Toppin slam:

The third quarter continued to be Knick kryptonite. Going into this game, New York ranked 28th in third quarter scoring at 25.6. While the Knicks scored above their season average with 31 points in the period, this was a catastrophic quarter of play that saw the Grizzlies score 39. The biggest play of the third quarter came at the 3:30 mark, when Ja Morant threw a lob that resulted in an and-one flush for Brandon Clarke, giving the Grizzlies a convincing 10-point lead.

It was a dog-fight in the fourth quarter, with Grizzlies bodying Knicks defenders for some easy scores. The Grizzlies’ physicality was too much for New York at times in this outing, but the Knicks wouldn’t go down with out a fight. RJ Barrett hit a big three early in the fourth and hit a difficult layup, helping his team cut the deficit. With a sweet move from Cam Reddish, the Knicks found themselves within three points with just under six minutes remaining.

Reddish then hit a jab-step three, giving the Knicks the lead at 112-111, their first lead since the third quarter, where New York led 55-54. The story of tonight’s game was defensive rebounds, where the Knicks once again significantly struggled in the fourth quarter. In the final period, the Knicks allowed the Grizzlies to secure 10 offensive rebounds, allowing them to get second-chance opportunities, including a late game put-back layup for Ja Morant with just 13.8 seconds remaining. Jalen Brunson had two chances to tie or take the lead, but was unsuccessful as the Knicks finished 0-2 in the season series versus Memphis.

Other Takeaways

  • Mitchell Robinson easily had his best output of the season. He had 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting along with seven rebounds and a resounding five blocks in 32 minutes of play, making his presence known on both ends of the floor. The only downside to his performance was his rebounding output. Seven boards is a fine number, but considering the Grizzlies got 16 offensive rebounds, 10 in the fourth quarter, his rebounding could have been better in the outing. But it is nice to see Robinson looking bouncy following his injury a couple games ago.
  • Cam Reddish was one of five Knicks in double figures tonight, finishing with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting. While some may argue that Reddish should start, I personally like him off the bench as he is significantly better than most players off the bench, and can get some easier steals to start the fast break. It will be interesting to see what Tom Thibodeau does with him and second-year guard Quentin Grimes going forward with the team now 20 games into the season.
  • While Ja Morant stole the show with his triple double, Julius Randle had a near triple-double himself, finishing with 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists. This was a different Randle we’re used to seeing, as he was significantly more unselfish with the ball, effectively setting up his teammates in the nail-biting loss. In the late game, it was great to see him hand the ball off to Brunson, recognizing that former Villanova guard has been efficient recently in the fourth quarter. Sunday’s game was a stepping stone for Julius and hopefully he continues to build on this type of performance.

The Knicks will travel to Detroit on Tuesday night to face a depleted Pistons team at 7 pm on MSG. New York will look to bounce back following two narrow losses at home to Portland and Memphis.

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