The New York Knicks defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 118-104 on Monday night, with Julius Randle scoring 28 points and Derrick Rose adding 25 points on 11 of 15 shooting.
“I like the team’s toughness,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “They persisted and eventually found a way out.”
With the victory, the Knicks secure their first winning season since going 54-28 in 2012-13.
“It’s really good,” Randle said of the Knicks’ recent performance, adding that the team “needs to keep doing it to get better.”
While the Knicks continued their winning streak – their 12th in the last 13 – one of the four play-in spots in the West is becoming more elusive for Memphis. The Grizzlies’ fourth loss in five games. With this win and Golden State’s earlier win over New Orleans on Monday night, the Warriors moved into eighth place, a half-game ahead of Memphis, which is now in ninth.
“All these games are big,” said Dillon Brooks, who had 25 points for Memphis. “We’ve got to realize that. Our attention to detail, our intensity, our attention to everything has got to be heightened. We’ve just got to be ready every single game.”
For the Grizzlies, rookie Desmond Bane scored 22 points, while Jaren Jackson Jr. finished with 15 points.
Memphis, which trailed by as many as 17 points in the second half, attempted a comeback in the fourth quarter, cutting New York’s lead to 101-96 with 5:28 remaining. Randle responded with a 3-pointer with 3:57 left.
But, with Memphis still within five points as the game entered the final minutes, the Grizzlies were whistled for five technical fouls in the span of 18 seconds to seal the loss.
When asked about the technical fouls, Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins, who received two and was ejected, dodged the question, saying: “I’m really proud of how hard our guys worked, and we need to build on that. We still have a lot of basketball to play, and we’re heading in the right direction.”
The Knicks were led by RJ Barrett, who scored 15 points.
“They made difficult shots. You have to give credit to that team and look for the positives in this game “Brooks stated. But he also understands the significance of the remaining games as the Grizzlies jockey for the best postseason position.
The Knicks shot 77.3 percent in the second quarter, increasing their lead to 69-58 at halftime. Rose, who only played one season of college basketball at the University of Memphis, led New York with 15 points in the first half, missing only one of his seven shots.
New York couldn’t keep up that shooting pace, but it still had a three-point lead going into the fourth. Brooks brought the Grizzlies within six points at one point in the period.
“In the third, we built a good lead,” Thibodeau said. “We had a little trouble in the fourth, but we found a way to win.”