The Knicks get back in the win column after a mostly dominant performance and some Donte DiVincenzo heroics versus the beleaguered Grizzlies.
The New York Knicks bounced back from Saturday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers with a 123-113 victory over Memphis on Tuesday night, completing their first regular season series sweep against the Grizzlies since 2021.
The Knicks (33-18), who led by as much as 24 points in the fourth quarter, appeared to be on cruise control after a dominant first-half performance. However, they hit a few speed bumps on their way to the finish line. Jalen Brunson went down with an ankle injury, exited the game, and went to the locker room.
Memphis (18-33) didn’t go away quietly and gave the Knicks a scare, coming back to trim the deficit down to four with just over two minutes remaining in the game.
Donte DiVincenzo immediately responded with a three-pointer to continue his high-scoring night, and Precious Achiuwa followed up with a dunk to give New York some cushioning. DiVincenzo iced the game by scoring the Knicks’ last five points of the game.
It initially didn’t look like there would be any dramatics at all, opened up with a quick double-digit lead behind the play of Brunson. They maintained that edge and expanded on their lead with a 15-4 run to start the second quarter, which pushed their lead into the 20s. While Brunson was the spark in the first quarter, everyone from the Knicks’ starting five to the bench made big plays on both ends of the court to fuel their dominant first-half showing.
New York took a 70-46 lead at the break. The Knicks shot a scoring 63.6% overall and 53.3% from deep in the first half alone.
Just when it seemed like the Knicks would coast to the final buzzer, the Grizzlies used an 18-1 run in the fourth quarter, but the Knicks would hold on for the win in a battle of short-handed teams.
All five New York starters scored in double figures. DiVincenzo led the Knicks with 32 points on 12-of-18 shooting, with five boards, five assists, and three steals. Brunson had 27 points, four boards, eight assists, and three steals, before checking out of the game. Isaiah Hartenstein added 17 points, eight rebounds, two steals and three blocks. Precious Achiuwa also had 17 points, with five rebounds, three steals, and a block. Josh Hart had a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double, with four assists and a game-high plus/minus rating of +20.
Miles McBride chipped in 12 points off the bench. As a team, the Knicks shot (48-of-86 overall (55.8%) and 11-of-27 (40.7%) from deep.
For the Grizzlies, Vince Williams Jr. led the way with 19 points. Six other Grizzlies players scored in double figures: GG Jackson (16 points), David Roddy (15), Luke Kennard, Trey Jemison, Jacob Gilyard (12 each) and Santi Aldama (11).
Brunson, Hart injury scares
There were undoubtedly flaws in the Knicks’ fourth quarter and inability to close out a game where they led by as much as 28 points, but that’s secondary to Brunson and Hart, who each sustained injuries just minutes apart from each other.
Brunson attempted to drive towards the basket and appeared to badly roll his left ankle. He exited the game and went to the locker room, and did not return.
Shortly after, Hart appeared to have tweaked something, but he played through it and continued the game. Afterwards, according to SNY’s Ian Begley
, Tom Thibodeau did not have any further update other than that they were being evaluated by the Knicks’ medical staff.
At that point, the Grizzlies were able to trim the deficit down to 10 points, and after Brunson exited the game, they were able to get as close as a four-point range.
DiVincenzo to the rescue
Another big game for DiVincenzo, who continues his red-hot play as of late.
Including Tuesday’s win, over the last five games, he’s averaging 27.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. He made key plays over the closing minutes to help the Knicks preserve the win, just as momentum was rolling the Grizzlies’ way.
He’s also shooting a combined 51-of-110 (46.4%) overall, and he’s made at least four 3-pointers in each of the last five games. His shooting percentage from beyond the arc is 39.4% during this recent stretch.
Barring the late-game collapse, which isn’t nearly as big of a reason to panic compared to Brunson and Hart’s potential injuries, it was an impressive team-wide display, especially in the first half.
Brunson got things going in the first quarter, scoring 17 of the Knicks’ 33 first-quarter points, but after that, everybody chipped in.
Achiuwa continues to play productive minutes while Julius Randle is out. He played solid on both ends of the court, and so did frontcourt mate Isaiah Hartenstein. Hartenstein was efficient with his shots, shooting 7-of-8, but he added great energy on the glass and defensively. He had two steals and three blocks in the win, made some nice plays late, and remains a valuable asset.
Hart had a quietly good game, getting his double-double towards the end. He also had four assists and finished with a team-high plus/minus rating of +20.
The bench got involved too, with McBride taking advantage of getting extended minutes. Malachi Flynn had a plus/minus rating of +15 and Taj Gibson got involved in the second quarter, as the Knicks fueled their run and pulled further away.
The Memphis comeback had its issues, but some of it could also be attributed to the Grizzlies just hitting an uncharacteristic hot streak and making nine 3-pointers to put them in a position where a comeback was even possible. Either way, a win is a win, and the Knicks will continue their long homestand on Thursday against the Dallas Mavericks at 7:30 p.m. ET