Surging Grizzlies hand Knicks first loss

The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Something had to give. The New York Knicks were undefeated, having won their first six games. The Memphis Grizzlies were on a six-game winning streak of their own and coming off back-to-back wins over the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Friday night at FedExForum the Grizzlies delivered an encore before a national television audience -- a 105-95 win -- and now at 7-1 have the best record in the NBA. It's unchartered territory for this franchise.

"Us? Wow," said league-leading rebounder Zach Randolph, who had much to do with Friday's victory with 20 points and 15 rebounds -- his eighth double-double of the season.

"It sounds good," point guard Mike Conley said of having the league's best record. "We beat some very good teams in the last week. We believe in ourselves. We still have a chip on our shoulder."

New York came in averaging a league-best 103.5 points per game and the 95 points marked a season low. Up by five at the half, the Grizzlies used a 19-1 run and 31-point third quarter to stretch out to an 85-67 advantage going into the fourth (they led by as many as 21).

"We got kind of stagnant and sluggish and really didn't move the ball like we had been doing," said Knicks coach Mike Woodson.

That third quarter was a nightmare for the Knicks, who collected nine personal fouls (one flagrant) and also had three technicals called on them. The Knicks cut the lead to eight with 4:42 to play on a pull-up jumper from J.R. Smith, but they could get no closer and a Randolph put-back and a Rudy Gay 3-pointer pushed the lead back to 13 with 3:13 to play.

"I thought we had a shot," said Woodson. "(But) they were playing really well."

Although Memphis and New York each scored 42 points in the paint, the Grizzlies controlled the area near the basket as Carmelo Anthony, Rasheed Wallace and Tyson Chandler all got into foul trouble and finished with five fouls apiece; Anthony led New York's scoring with 20 points.

"Tonight was just rugged and frustrations came out," Chandler said. "It was an ugly game."

Batting with Wallace was just more of the same, Randolph said, adding, "I know him like a book, just like he knows me like a book."

Said Wallace: "I like to talk trash. That's what I do."

Woodson tried going small to get the Grizzlies out of their bigs-oriented style, but it never really worked.

"They are good. They are long," Woodson said of Randolph and center Marc Gasol, who had a season-high 24 points, half of them coming at the free throw line. "I will do things a little differently the next time we play them."

Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said being able to play a big lineup was a major part of winning the game.

"That was one of the keys tonight, the fact we were able to play our bigs through most of the game," he said. "If you play small, you have to give something and they gave up a lot tonight. It was our advantage."

Wallace gave the Griz their due: "They played a good game, hats off to the Grizzlies. But I just have to say one thing -- they need to come to (Madison Square) Garden."

The Knicks are in a stretch of playing on the road in six of seven games and this was the second of a back-to-back (they beat the Spurs in San Antonio Thursday). Woodson was happy with the Spurs win as a way to measure where his team was.

"We were on a six-game winning streak," Woodson said. "We didn't want that streak to end, but it did so we have to start a new streak."

The Grizzlies look to extend their winning streak to eight games in Charlotte Saturday.

"If we don't win (Saturday), tonight doesn't mean anything," Gasol said.

Said Gay: "We are getting better, that is all it is. I can't say we are playing any different than the way we always have. We are just doing it at a higher level."

NOTES: Not only was Friday's game a matchup of conference leaders (the Knicks were 6-0 and atop the East; the Grizzlies 6-1 and first in the West), but it featured the teams that turn the ball over the least. The Knicks led the league with just 10.17 turnovers per game; Memphis was second at 13.29 ... Although the Grizzlies won by 10 points, the Knicks had a 36-19 advantage in bench scoring led by Rasheed Wallace's 13 points ... The last time the Knicks started 6-0 was the 1993-94 season ... The Grizzlies' 7-1 start is the best in franchise history; they also are on a 15-game regular-season home winning streak that dates back to March 18, 2012 vs. Washington. "Teams feel the pressure when they come into this building," point guard Mike Conley said of FedExForum.

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