New York Knicks 103, Memphis Grizzlies 98: David Fizdale makes victorious return


The Memphis Grizzlies’ worst defensive stretch of the season set the stage for a most dramatic finish on Sunday.

But the hole Memphis dug itself during an abysmal third quarter proved too much to overcome during a furious fourth.

The New York Knicks and former Grizzlies coach David Fizdale escaped with a 103-98 win in Fizdale’s first return to FedExForum since he was fired in Memphis last year.

Here are a few things to know:

Jaren Jackson Jr. changes game

The fourth overall pick played an awe-inspiring fourth quarter of defense for the Grizzlies.

Jackson brought the Grizzlies (12-7) back from a nine-point deficit as he set a new career-high with seven blocked shots, four of which came in the fourth quarter.

He shined offensively, too, scoring 16 points on 6-of-6 shooting, including 4-of-4 from beyond the arc.

“I’ve just been trying to help the guards and help myself if someone is attacking me, picking my moments better and trying not to pick up a foul,” Jackson said. “Mostly just trying to get the ball at its peak.”

Jackson blocked three shots in a 1:16 span following his 3-pointer that brought Memphis within 87-83 midway through the fourth quarter.

That stretch brought a previous sleepy crowd of 14,331 alive.

It couldn’t negate an abysmal third quarter.

See where the Grizzlies stack up: Western Conference Standings

Grizzlies get stagnant

Marc Gasol and Fizdale’s fraught relationship contributed to Fizdale’s firing last season.

But Gasol credits Fizdale with helping him expand his range.

The big man’s third 3-pointer of the game with 8:05 left in the third quarter gave the Grizzlies their largest lead yet at 66-53.

They seemed to think it would be enough.

Instead of laying down, New York (7-14) outscored Memphis 25-8 the rest of the frame as Enes Kanter poured in 14 third-quarter points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

The Knicks outscored Memphis 35-19 in the quarter, and the Grizzlies had no answer for Kanter. Even Jackson struggled to contain Kanter in the post as the Knicks turned a 13-point deficit into a seven-point lead entering the final quarter.

“We didn’t play our brand of basketball,” Gasol said. “I thought that we got a little too full defensively, not enough urgency, too many mismatches, cross-matches, easy layups, and they made us pay for that. We had control of the game, and then it took a lot of energy to get close again. We kind of ran out of gas at the end.”

Gassing Conley and Gasol

Conley rested for just one-minute and 54 seconds in the second half. Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff called for Conley to re-enter with 3:12 left in the third quarter after the Knicks took a 70-69 lead.

The 31-year-old point guard did not get another breather.

“I mean, yeah, we wore him out and that’s on me,” Bickerstaff said.

Gasol and Kyle Anderson each played the entire fourth quarter as well.

“The third quarter kind of set the tone for us and put us in a hole, and I thought we needed to kind of press that group to give us an opportunity to win,” Bickerstaff said. “So when you dig yourself a hole, you make those decisions.”

Conley’s 16 missed shots (8-of-24 from the field) were a season-high. He finished with 23 points. Gasol scored 27 on 10-of-21 shooting.

“It can be tough playing fifteen, sixteen straight minutes sometimes,” Conley said. “Just the flow of the game, being involved in the action, it can wear you down a little bit. But no excuses for our team. We still have to do the things to wrap up games like this, and we didn’t do it.”

David Fizdale returns

Fizdale got an ice water bath from the Knicks in the locker room after beating his old team.

“My suit is ruined,” Fizdale said. “Emmanuel (Mudiay) came up to me, and him and Tim (Hardaway) both were hugging me and telling me this was for me. Then they all came in and I lost it, because it’s just some good kids in that locker room playing hard and trying to get better, and that meant a lot to me that they put forth that effort with me in mind.”

Before the game, Bickerstaff said he learned from the “championship pedigree” and attention to detail that Fizdale, a former two-time NBA champion assistant coach, brought to Memphis.

“You have to go out and every single day you’ve got to follow through with it,” Bickerstaff said. “He’s a stickler for those things, and it was really helpful for me to be around him and actually work with him and see it every day.”

Up next

The Grizzlies host Eastern Conference leader Toronto on Tuesday (7 p.m., Fox Sports Southeast). The Raptors entered Sunday’s action ranked third in the NBA in offensive rating and sixth in defensive rating.

Reach David Cobb at and on Twitter @DavidWCobb.

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