Court Vision: Grizzlies handle suddenly-depleted Knicks
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — New York found out minutes before tip of a 105-83 loss to the Grizzlies that forward J.R. Smith and guard Iman Shumpert were being traded to Cleveland. New York led by three in the second quarter, but Memphis (25-9) scored 37 points in the third quarter to pull away.
Here are three takeaways from Memphis’ fourth win in five games and New York’s 12th straight loss.
1. The Knicks had eight players on the floor for warmups
J.R. Smith was in the starting lineup before he found out he had made his last start for New York. Smith was part of a three-team deal with Cleveland and Oklahoma City that went down shortly before tip.
"This was an impactful night, in terms of first, the three guys that aren’t with us anymore," Knicks coach Derek Fisher said. "I spoke to each of them before the game. I told them how much I and we appreciate the efforts made in this transition process."
That’s how Fisher refers to the Knicks’ struggles, losers of 12 straight games and trapped at the bottom of the league, five wins along with Minnesota and Philadelphia. It was a salary dump for New York (5-32), sending starting forward Smith and starting guard Shumpert to Cleveland. The Knicks are expected to waive Lance Thomas from the Thunder, as well as Samuel Dalembert and former Cavs center Alex Kirk and forward Lou Amundson.
The Knicks were already shorthanded, Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani and Amar’e Stoudemire all on the injury notes.
But neither team shot well early, at one point in the second quarter Memphis 32.3 percent and New York 33.3 percent. For New York, it was less about Monday and more about where president Phil Jackson is taking the team.
"I think, especially in this league now, guys with expiring contracts, they don’t necessarily possibly have a long-term future, I think Phil is continuing to look at how we transition as we change the culture of the New York Knicks," Fisher said.
"I thought we had a great moment before coming out where all three guys were still in the locker room with us before we came out on the floor, to acknowledge that they were still a member of the team as of now. Once we break this huddle, we won’t be with them."
Memphis is part of the Cavs’ rumor mill as well, sources telling FOX Sports Ohio the team is still interested in Grizzles center Kosta Koufos.
2. Memphis boy Jarnell Stokes gets his first NBA start
Second-round pick Jarnell Stokes, a Memphis native, drew his first NBA start in place of Zach Randolph, out for the eighth straight game with a sore knee.
Stokes scored three points on 1-of-4 shooting and had a rebound. He drew a tough task of keeping Knicks forward Quincy Acy off the glass. Acy had a team-high 19 points and 14 rebounds off the bench, but it was vets Vince Carter and Tayshaun Prince coming off of Memphis’ bench to talk with the admittedly-nervous Stokes.
Carter had a conversation with him pregame. Prince met him during the game’s first timeout.
"I felt like everyone knew I was nervous. I don’t know how," Stokes said. "I was pretty nervous. Once the ball goes up, you pretty much get over it. (Vince) always gives me advice. He’s almost like an extended coach. He just told me to clam down, ‘You look nervous.’"
Both stats for Acy were career highs, but the more important number is 17, the career-high total minutes Stokes has played in each of the last two games.
"He’s just a young guy and he’s learning," Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. "There is not a better guy for him to play against than Quincy Acy, who’s a very physical guy … All in all though, I thought he did pretty well."
3. Allen, as usual, did his defensive thing
Tony Allen did his thing and he continues to do it a record pace. Allen had seven of Memphis’ 14 steals and has recorded multiple steals in each of his last seven games, tying his season-best and career-high streak.
Allen had to rethink his assignment when news of Smith’s trade surfaced.
"I hate that. I hate that," Allen said. "I was looking forward to that matchup, honestly. But Tim Hardaway, Jr. was next in line and I keyed in on him. That was it."
Allen is the only player in the NBA this season to record multiple streaks of at least six games with more than one steal. His seven Monday is the highest of any player in a game this season.
Knicks guard Hardaway, Jr. was asked how the Grizzlies were able to force 21 turnovers.
"I don’t think they deflected the ball. I think Tony Allen deflected a lot of those basketballs," Hardaway said. "He did a great job of getting back on defense and reading our eyes while we were on offense. He also played the passing lane and that’s what he does best."
58 — Memphis scored 58 points in the paint. The Grizzlies are second in the NBA averaging 46.7. New York, last in the league (33.7), had 26.
22 — Grizzlies PG Mike Conley’s game-high points on 9 of 12 shooting.