The New York Knicks made headlines for Wednesday’s performance at home against Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies for all the wrong reasons.
While the majority of the conversation surrounding this game will come from the goings on that occurred in the last minute of the game, I will do my best to chronicle the events that led to those shenanigans.
This was a game that had ebbs and flows for the majority of the first half, with the Memphis Grizzlies (24-24), defeating the New York Knicks (13-36) 127-106, always looking like the better team. In the second half the Knicks fell apart and the score matched what the game felt like. Every time the Knicks started to make a run and get competitive, the Grizzlies would counter it with a run of their own to take the game back out of reach.
Both teams were on the second night of a back-to-back, but Memphis’ youth was too much for a New York team unwilling to go to their young guys. Even as the game grew out of reach, the vets—with a troubling skirmish to come—stayed on the court for the Knicks.
The Knicks got progressively worse as the game went on, tied after one and down seven at the half. The second half is where it got ugly on all levels, down 12 after the third quarter and down by 20 for much of the final frame before ultimately losing by 21 points in front of a restless home crowd.
The game could have been described as chippy throughout, with physical play on both sides. This came to a boiling point late in the game when Jae Crowder pushed the buttons of Elfrid Payton who immediately pushed back. This created a kerfuffle when multiple players on both sides got involved.
MAYHEM AT MADISON SQUARE— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) January 30, 2020
Payton and Crowder get into it after an egregious foul from Payton pic.twitter.com/ovkeDjUAGw
It started with Crowder stealing a lazy inbound pass with under a minute left, pulling it out to take a corner three. This set Elfrid Payton who was clearly frustrated with that decision in a game out of reach. After his initial push, Crowder got up and the two got into each other’s faces. When other players got involved to break it up, things continued to escalate. Marcus Morris Sr. pushed Ja Morant, who was trying to separate the players involved. Jonas Valanciunas quickly jumped in to protect his star rookie.
Morris, Crowder, and Payton got ejections for their troubles; Jonas Valanciunas also got a technical for good measure.
There was absolutely no excuse for the actions that occurred at the end of this game. If the Knicks are going to keep preaching about playing the veterans for the culture and leadership they bring to the organization, there are no excuses for these events. Not only are these players not helping to win, they are unable to control themselves in their losses.
- Ja Morant continued his standout rookie year with a heck of a performance in his debut at the garden. He proceeded to make spectacular plays like routine in route to a remarkable +42 plus-minus mark.
- The Knicks and Grizzlies both attempted 28 3s, with the Grizzlies shooting 46% to the Knicks’ 32%.
- Dillon Brooks hit three of the Grizzlies’ total 13 shots from beyond the arc and led all scorers with 27 points.
- Without R.J. Barrett playing, Memphis’ rookies had all the attention. While Morant had the most highlights, Brandon Clarke looked like someone that the Knicks would be lucky to have on their roster. Impressive for any player, let alone a rookie from the late first round.
- Not only was there a mess occurring on the court, but in MSG as well. Loud “Sell the Team” chants could be heard late in the game directed at Knicks owner James Dolan, in attendance.
A loud "Sell the team" chant rises up at MSG with Knicks down 18 and a fracas on the court just broken up. MSG starts piping in loud music to break it up. Things are not going well in New York tonight. pic.twitter.com/X9zM0VQ3Vg— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) January 30, 2020
- Along with those chants, “We Want Frank” could be heard as fans clamored for favorite Frank Ntilikina.
- While Ntilikina received a DNP-CD along with Alonzo Trier, those minutes were going to the likes of Wayne Ellington and Dennis Smith Jr. to start the fourth quarter and throughout the second half.
- While I am sure more will come out in regards to the events that occurred late in the game from both teams, Marcus Morris’ comments about Jae Crowder “flopping” being soft and “woman-like” are absolutely disgusting, blatantly sexist, and disrespectful.
"He's got a lot of female tendencies on the court, flopping and throwing his head back…he's soft, very woman-like"— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) January 30, 2020
– Marcus Morris on Jae Crowder pic.twitter.com/MxtFnKbu3M
The Knicks will be back on Friday at 7:00 p.m. ET as they go on the road to take on the recently returned Victor Oladipo and the Indiana Pacers.