MEMPHIS – It was a hot, humid May afternoon in Memphis.
But at night nothing is hotter than the Knicks.
The Knicks had no starting center in Nerlens Noel, and Alec Burks was returning from a long absence from COVID-19, but the Knicks freight train endured the season with a high 44-point second quarter en route to 118-104 Grizzly blasts on Monday at FedExForum.
The protagonist was reserve guard Derrick Rose, who not only showed off his MVP form from 10 years ago, but seemed to have returned to the University of Memphis, leading the Tigers in the national championship.
With some fans wearing his old “23” blue college jersey, Rose̵
Julius Randall added 28 points (5 of 8 to 3 points) and Burkes hit his first four shots before fixing his ankle late.
The game became salty late when Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins and neutralized defender Ja Morant were thrown out for arguing and sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
Clever, smart and tough, the Knicks set a winning record (37-28) with seven games left, announcing their 12th win in 13 games.
This madness began with a return in the fourth quarter against the Grizzlies on April 9, and no one knows when it will end. The Knicks’ six-game Western journey begins 2-0, with Denver, Phoenix, Clippers and Lakers waiting.
The Knicks’ first winning season of 2012-13 was never scheduled for December – even by Knicks CEO Scott Perry and senior vice president William Wesley, who sat at the team’s bench to soak everything. After the buzzer, Perry and Wesley greeted coach Tom Thibodeau.
After missing their first six shots and trailing by 6-0, the Knicks happily watched the rest of the first half. Sharing balls, making shots and a little quick smash brought them to the top of the fast Grizzlies, 69-58, at halftime.
Morant, the young defender of Memphis, was completely closed (eight points, 2 for 12). Morant’s low moment came late in the third quarter when he tried to throw the ball from the backboard to himself. Instead, Randall grabbed him and shot down at Barrett for left quick breakouts and a 87-75 lead.
Knicks received a boost from Burks’ return. After missing eight games in a row, Burks did not miss a single rhythm. Burkes hit his first shot attempt after the start of the second quarter – a 3-point that went in, out and came back.
Burkes made all three shots for seven points at halftime and passed Obi Topin to the alley, collecting two assists.
The red-hot Rose was a monster from the depths, adding 15 points in 13:42 from the bench. Rose’s jumper continued to chirp as he struck in 6 of 7 intermission shots.
Randall hit a 3-point buzzer in the first half to increase the Knicks’ lead to 69-58 at halftime. This led them to a 44-point second quarter – the peak of the season.
They finished the half on 11 of 18 from a range of 3 points – the shocking pre-season experts, who predicted shooting with 3 points, will be their cancellation.
The Grizzlies got off to a hot start and strong center Jonan Valenciunas took an early lead as the Knicks temporarily missed their starting center Nerlens Noel. But Taj Gibson eventually imposed his will and finished with three blocks. The third string Norvel Pelle registers two blocks.