Conley scores 22, Memphis sends Knicks to 12th straight loss
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Mike Conley knew how important it was for the Memphis Grizzlies to start the second half aggressively against the depleted New York Knicks.
After injury-ravaged New York stayed close in the first half, and even took a brief lead, the Grizzlies pulled away and handed the Knicks yet another loss.
Conley scored 14 of his game-high 22 points in the third quarter, and the Grizzlies beat New York 105-83 on Monday night, sending the Knicks to their record-tying 12th straight defeat.
''It was very important we didn't come out and ease into the (third) quarter,'' Conley said. ''We really took it upon ourselves to come out and play team defense and play aggressive defense.''
Tony Allen forced four of his game-high seven steals in the quarter to pace the defense, which forced nine turnovers in the period.
''Tony got going with all those steals, and that always sparks us a little bit,'' Conley said. ''Guys were also making shots on the offensive end and we were getting layups.''
The Grizzlies led by 11 at the half and pulled away in the third quarter behind Courtney Lee and Conley.
Lee scored all 11 of his points in the first seven minutes of the frame. Conley made both of his 3-pointers in the period, and the Grizzlies built a 22-point lead entering the fourth.
The Knicks (5-32), who have the NBA's worst winning percentage, lost for the 22nd time in 23 games.
Reserve forward Quincy Acy led the Knicks with 19 points, and Jose Calderon added 13.
New York played without injured starters Carmelo Anthony and Amare' Stoudemire. The Knicks were also missing J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, who were sent to the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of a three-team trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Knicks coach Derek Fisher said the trade created a difficult pregame environment and even more challenges during the game.
''We had to make some adjustments in terms of things we could do offensively and defensively,'' Fisher said. ''You saw us play some zone, which we hadn't done before.
''In some spurts it was effective, but overall, the nine guys that went out there, I thought they were trying their best. Memphis was the better team.''
The Cavaliers sent reserves Lou Amundson and Alex Kirk and their 2019 second-round pick to the Knicks, who are desperate to clear salary-cap space.
New York also received forward Lance Thomas from Oklahoma City.
Fisher called it a strange pregame setting.
''I can honestly say I'm not sure I've ever experienced it as a player where you're right before tipoff and a teammate is not right there with you,'' he said.
The deal forced guard Tim Hardaway Jr. to play small forward. He finished with 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
''It's tough,'' he said of the trade. ''But you still have to go out there and give it your all and compete.''
Allen and Marc Gasol added 14 points apiece for the Grizzlies, who rested their starters for most of the final period.
Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said he found out about the trade about 12 minutes before tipoff, and adjusted his lineup and the matchups accordingly.
The Knicks fell behind by 12 in the first quarter, but recovered to take leads of 27-26 and 29-26 midway through the second after successive baskets by Calderon.
Calderon's 3-pointer gave the Knicks their first lead, and he followed with a 20-foot jumper on the next possession.
The Grizzlies recovered in the final six minutes of the quarter. Vince Carter sparked a 21-7 run, starting with a 3-pointer to tie it 29-29. He closed the spurt with a 3-pointer to give the Grizzlies a 47-36 lead at halftime.
Tayshaun Prince had eight points in between, including six straight before Carter's finishing 3.
New York shot 33 percent in the first half, including 26 percent in the opening quarter. The Knicks finished at 43 percent.
Memphis shot 45 percent in the first half and 52 percent for the game.
Knicks: New York's starting lineup consisted of Jason Smith, Cole Aldrich, Calderon, Shane Larkin and Hardaway Jr. ... Anthony (sore left knee) missed his third straight game. Stoudemire (knee soreness) sat out his fifth in a row. ... The losing streak is the Knicks' longest since the 1984-85 season.
Grizzlies: Rookie forward Jarnell Stokes made his first career start in place of injured Zach Randolph and scored three points. Randolph missed his eighth straight game due to a sore right knee. Jon Leuer had been starting in place of Randolph. ... Memphis is 19-1 when outshooting its opponent. ... The Grizzlies (25-9) are off to the best start in franchise history.
Allen forced a steal midway through the third quarter and drove the length of the court for an emphatic dunk. He was fouled and made the free throw to give the Grizzlies a 68-51 lead.
Conley scored 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting and had seven assists. He made six of seven shots in the third quarter, including both 3-point attempts.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT:
''I hated that. I was looking forward to that matchup honestly.'' Allen said about missing the opportunity to guard the traded Smith.
Knicks: Wednesday at Washington.
Grizzlies: Wednesday at Atlanta.