The New York Knicks came into Thursday's game with their defense rolling and a three-game win streak in their wake. The Memphis Grizzlies came in struggling since the loss of Zach Randolph, their best player, with three straight losses behind them. Their match-up, then, was sort of a Freaky Friday scenario. The Knicks lost their best player and fell to shambles while the Grizzlies defended competently and came away with the win, 94-83.
Carmelo Anthony, who was the lone Knick to generate much offense, banged his wrist early in the game but returned. It wasn't meant to be, though, as a turned ankle early in the third quarter sidelined him for good. He's now listed as day-to-day, and it remains to be seen whether he'll be available on Saturday against the Thunder.
With or without Anthony, the Knicks' offense was hideous. Amar'e Stoudemire picked up two quick fouls and managed just six ugly points before he picked up another two. Meanwhile, Iman Shumpert, who'd been solid in his first few games as the Knicks' starting point guard, appeared to have lost his mind. He played as if controlled by an under-medicated nine-year-old with an XBox, launching ill-advised jumpers seconds after crossing halfcourt. He finished 5-20 after an appallingly reckless 3-15 first half.
And while the Knicks' offense didn't do itself any favors, credit must be given to a Grizzly defense that had been improving but not quite winning games of late. At its best, the Memphis defense is one of long, looming arms and vigorous poaching of passing lanes to force turnovers, and that game was alive and well Thursday night. Knowing full well that the Knicks are a team of questionable passers and without a true point guard, Tony Allen and company blitzed constantly in the backcourt and repeatedly picked off lazy, telegraphed passes by Knick guards (Shumpert was chief among them with six turnovers). The forced turnovers kick-started transition offense, and the Grizzlies made good on plenty of easy attempts. (Not all of them, though. Allen shanked a wide-open layup that has yet to be uploaded to YouTube and, if Allen's lucky, never will be).
On top of the rampant fast-breaking, Memphis looked pretty good in half-court sets. Rudy Gay abused Anthony and his subsequent replacements both off the dribble and off the ball, finishing with an efficient 26 points on 16 shots. O.J. Mayo, perhaps energized in a match-up with his ol' buddy Bill Walker, hit four three-pointers and scored 18 points off the bench.
The streak-snapping win moved the Grizzlies to 4-6 on the season, while the sneak-strapping loss dropped the Knicks to 6-5.