MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies signed veteran Mike Miller during the offseason for his 3-point shooting.
It paid off big time Tuesday night.
Miller scored a season-high 19 points, and made a wide-open 3-pointer with 45.9 seconds remaining to help carry the Grizzlies to a 98-93 victory over the New York Knicks.
”That’s what we got him for,” said Memphis guard Mike Conley, who led the Grizzlies with 22 points. ”He’s going to win us four or five, six games throughout the year himself, just from making big plays down the stretch. Tonight was one of those games.”
Miller shot 7 for 11 from the field, including 5 of 7 on 3-pointers, to help Memphis win its third straight. Miller’s last-minute 3 gave the Grizzlies the lead for good as they scored the game’s final seven points.
”I’ve been in a lot of these situations, and I was able to make some shots when we needed them,” Miller said.
For the Knicks, Miller’s late 3-pointer was frustrating not only from the sense that it caused New York to squander a comeback from 18 points down in the first half, but also cost them a key game as the Knicks fight for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
New York’s Carmelo Anthony, who finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds, couldn’t believe his team failed to close the game, particularly when seeing Miller uncontested for the 3-pointer that put Memphis ahead.
”All I saw was Mike Miller wide open and the ball was going,” Anthony said before adding: ”Once the ball was up, my thing was to just hope that he didn’t keep his follow through up or something and the ball was going to miss. But he was wide open.”
Zach Randolph scored 13 points for Memphis, Nick Calathes had 11 and Tayshaun Prince added 10.
Conley, who had missed the seven games before the All-Star break with a sprained right ankle, couldn’t find a rhythm after the layoff and struggled in the first half before scoring 16 in the second half, including getting to the free throw line 10 times after intermission.
”I was real upset and frustrated at times,” Conley said of the first half. ”I was missing shots I normally make. I missed a couple of free throws, but I was happy with the way my body held up.
”I started getting a little bit of a rhythm (in the second half). I was able to get to the free throw line and able to get to my floater. I got in a comfort zone.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 23 points to lead the Knicks, including 14 during the Knicks’ fourth-quarter push. Amare Stoudemire added 12 points.
”We played great in the second half,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. ”We fought back. We were 18 down and kept chipping away.”
Memphis saw its 50-37 halftime lead evaporate in the third quarter when New York outscored the Grizzlies 27-16.
Much of that came as New York turned up the defensive pressure, allowing Memphis to hit only three of its first 11 shots in the third. Meanwhile, the Knicks made six of their first eight shots in the quarter.
The Knicks weren’t able to maintain that pace, finishing 10 for 21 in the period to pull to 66-64 entering the fourth.
When Stoudemire scored the opening basket of the fourth, the teams were tied at 66. The Knicks eventually held a seven-point advantage in the fourth. However, the Grizzlies had the final run.
Hardaway’s 3-pointer with 1:04 left gave New York a 93-91 lead. Miller answered with the open 3-pointer to take the lead back for Memphis, then Conley and Courtney Lee each hit two free throws in the final 21.4 seconds for the final margin.
”It’s very disappointing,” Anthony said. ”To fight our way back and be up 5, 6 with a couple of minutes on the clock, and give it away is very disappointing. But we have to put this one behind us.”
NOTES: The Grizzlies were 4-3 while Conley sat out with a sprained ankle. … The Knicks’ J.R. Smith was still in the plastic mask from his fractured cheekbone. He has been uncomfortable in the mask since he was injured Feb. 9 at Oklahoma City. … Miller’s previous season high was 16 against Golden State on Dec. 7. .The game marked only the fourth time this season New York has lost while holding the opponent under 100 points.