Memphis Grizzlies hold off New York Knicks

By Phil Stukenborg, The Sports Xchange
Memphis Grizzlies hold off New York Knicks
Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) scores. File photo by Mark Goldman/UPI | License Photo

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- If Mike Conley had any concerns how his lacerated and swollen right eye would affect his shooting touch, they were quickly dismissed Friday night at FedExForum.

Conley scored 31 points as the Memphis Grizzlies clinched the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a 101-88 victory over the New York Knicks.


Conley was injured late in Tuesday's loss at San Antonio and did not play Wednesday against Oklahoma City. He opened Friday's game with consecutive 3-pointers -- two of four he made in a 14-point first quarter and among seven he drained in the game. Conley tied a career high for 3-pointers made.

Despite his right eye being partially shut, Conley played at the high level he has all year. The 30-point game was his 10th of the season.


"It was good to get back out there and continue to feel it the way I have the past month or so," Conley said.

The laceration above his eye gave him some minor problems throughout the game and even bled on occasion.

"For the most part, my vision was pretty clear," Conley said.

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Memphis, which will play San Antonio in the first round, also got 16 points and 10 rebounds from Marc Gasol. Courtney Lee scored 16 points to lead New York and Maurice Ndour, one of three rookies in the starting lineup, finished with a career-high 15.

The Knicks played without their two leading scorers -- Carmelo Anthony (rest) and Kristaps Porzingis (back injury) -- and their absences eventually were felt.

Although New York led 72-70 entering the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies opened the quarter with a 26-8 run to pull away. Vince Carter had three 3-pointers during the stretch and Conley had two. Gasol contributed another.

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"The first few minutes of the fourth were how we ideally wanted to start the second half," Conley said. "I think guys were fed up with our effort. We gave them confidence they could stay in the game and have a chance, but in that fourth quarter guys were locked in."


Carter scored nine of his 12 points in the fourth quarter. Gasol added nine points. Conley's 3-pointer early in the quarter gave the Grizzlies a 75-72 lead and they never trailed again.

"I was really happy with the way Marc and Mike responded in the huddle," Grizzlies coach David Fizdale said. "I really thought they got after the team and nipped it when it needed to be nipped."

The Grizzlies close the regular season with home games against Detroit and Dallas before beginning the playoffs against San Antonio.

"All our guys have to be dialed in for 48 minutes (in the playoffs)," Grizzlies guard Tony Allen said. "It's going to be a tough matchup."

The Knicks lost their 50th game of the season, extending their streak to three seasons with at least 50 losses.

Memphis snapped a three-game losing streak.

Ahead for most of the first three quarters, the Grizzlies fell behind late in the third as Sasha Vujacic put together an 8-0 run. Two 3-pointers by Vujacic gave the Knicks their first lead (69-66) since the opening half.

"I thought our guys played great," Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. "Then there was that stretch of three minutes (or so) that we were trying to help each other out and Vince (Carter) got open and hit three 3s."


NOTES: Knicks F/C Kristaps Porzingis, second on the team with an 18.1 scoring average, missed his third straight game with a sore back. ... Grizzlies G Mike Conley is one of four players with 10,000 points, 4,000 assists and 1,000 steals since he entered the NBA in 2007-08. LeBron James, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook are the others. ... Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said F Carmelo Anthony, who sat out Friday's game (scheduled rest), likely will play in the team's final two games against Toronto and Philadelphia. Anthony had 23 points and six rebounds in Thursday's 106-103 loss to the Wizards. ... Grizzlies F Zach Randolph was limited to two points on 1-of-8 shooting. He needs two points to surpass Magic Johnson for 75th on the NBA scoring list. Randolph has 17,706 career points.

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