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Knicks 108, Grizzlies 101

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- J.R. Smith scored 35 points to lead the New York Knicks to their sixth straight win as they barely held off the Memphis Grizzlies 108-101 on Wednesday in a game that featured a surprisingly tense final few minutes.

The Knicks watched a 30-point, second-half lead fall to four late in the fourth quarter, but they held on for the victory at Madison Square Garden.

Carmelo Anthony scored 22 and Iman Shumpert added 16 for the Knicks (44-26), who were again without injured center Tyson Chandler.

Memphis lost its fifth straight road game, again failing to earn what would be a franchise-record 20th win away from home this season.

Mike Conley scored 26 points to lead Memphis, which lost its second straight game and third of its last four. Jerryd Bayless had 24 points and Tony Allen added 18 for the Grizzlies (47-24).

Injured center Marc Gasol returned after a two-game absence, but he struggled along the way to 13 points and five rebounds.

The Knicks were in control nearly the whole game, but Memphis suddenly made it interesting in the fourth quarter, eventually closing within 103-99 on a pair of free throws by Allen with 33 seconds left.

Those came about a half-minute after the Knicks thought they had finally put away the Grizzlies when Jason Kidd answered a putback by Quincy Poindexter with a 3-pointer. Kidd's three gave New York a 103-95 lead with 1:16 left, but Memphis, which had gone on a 9-0 spurt to close within five, got closer on Allen's free throws.

Raymond Felton and Smith combined to hit 3 of 4 free throws for the Knicks on their next possessions to boost the lead back to 106-99, and New York held on from there.

After a dominant first half, the Knicks got the lead up to 30 early in the third quarter, but Memphis trimmed the deficit nearly in half, to 86-70, entering the fourth. Already dealing with several injuries, the Knicks lost another body a quarter of the way into the third, when Marcus Camby was ejected with his second technical foul after arguing a foul call.

It came amid a string of eight straight free throws for Memphis, which, along with a three-point play by Allen and a basket for Conley, fueled a 13-2 spurt that drew Memphis within 76-60 with 5:58 left in the third.

Memphis cut the deficit even further early in the fourth, when Bayless scored nine straight points. His free throw to complete a three-point play after a layup got Memphis within 89-79 with 9:10 left.

Smith scored the next four points to boost the lead back to 14, but the Grizzlies again crept closer, before New York finally held them off.

The Knicks dominated nearly from the start, shooting 72 percent in the first quarter and putting up 69 points in the first half to take a 28-point lead.

New York hit 11 3-pointers entering the half, with Smith hitting three on the way to 23 first-half points.

Shumpert was a perfect 6 of 6 from the field in the first half, scoring 16 points -- 13 in the first quarter. Smith and Anthony combined for 12 points during the Knicks' 12-6 run to close the first quarter and give them a 37-25 lead entering the second.

The Knicks outscored Memphis 32-16 in the second quarter as Smith scored 12 points while Steve Novak hit 3-pointers.

Gasol, who pushed to return to the lineup despite aggravating an abdominal injury last week, was held to just two points and didn't have a rebound in the first half.

NOTES: Gasol was initially expected to miss his third straight game with an abdominal tear, but coach Lionel Hollins said the center insisted on getting back in the lineup. "He said he was playing," Hollins said before the game. "I told him I'd rather check with the doctors, and he said he was playing." Gasol first sustained the injury on March 6 and aggravated it last Friday, causing his two-game absence. ... The Grizzlies' 19 road wins tied the franchise record achieved in three straight seasons, starting in 2003-04, though Memphis had lost four straight away games. ... Chandler missed his eighth straight game with a bulging disk in his neck, and coach Mike Woodson said his status remained "day to day." Chandler didn't appear to indicate a quick return Tuesday, when he told reporters he still had significant pain and had trouble simply looking up.
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