Conley scores 31, Grizzlies beat Knicks to clinch seventh
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Mike Conley showed a deft shooting touch even through a half-closed eye.
Conley, still showing some swelling from a gash under his right eyebrow, connected on 12 of 17 shots en route to 31 points as the Memphis Grizzlies clinched the Western Conference’s No. 7 seed with a 101-88 victory over the short-handed New York Knicks on Friday night.
“There were few times when (I) had to looked to the right too quickly, and it gets in the way a little bit,” Conley said. “But for the most part, (the eyesight) was pretty clear. It bled a little bit, but we glued it up.”
Conley’s went 7 of 11 from 3-point range and led six Grizzlies in double figures as Memphis snapped a three-game losing streak. The Grizzlies will face the second-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs.
Wayne Selden scored a career-high 13 points and Vince Carter added 12, including a trio of 3-pointers as the Grizzlies pulled away with a 16-2 rally in the fourth quarter.
Courtney Lee led the Knicks with 16 points, while Maurice Ndour recorded a career-high 15. Justin Holiday finished with 12 points, and Willy Hernangomez had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The Knicks, who played without Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, lost for the third time in the last four.
Anthony did not play since it was the second night of a back-to-back. And hopes of Porzingis returning were sidetracked when his sore lower back flared up. Those absences coupled with long-term problems like Derrick Rose’s season-ending knee surgery and Joakim Noah’s suspension, put the Knicks deep into their bench players.
The young reserves were up to the challenge until the early stages of the fourth as a pair of early shot clock violations allowed Memphis to retake the lead.
“In this game, when you’re shooting 3s, it can go from a close game to all of a sudden you’re down 12 or 15 points,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said.
That’s where the game got away from New York. Memphis used the early turnovers and crafted its rally in the middle of the period, led by Carter’s trio of 3-pointers, the last one extending the Memphis advantage to 96-80.
“We guarded them,” Selden said of the fourth quarter. “We played with energy. We really turned it up on the defensive end, and that’s what gave us the opportunity to get out and run.”
Memphis had a 12-point lead in the first half, but came out lackadaisical after intermission. Lazy passes and inattentive ball handling contributed to a hlaf dozen turnovers, allowing the Knicks to pull even at 66 in the third.
Knicks: New York has lost its last six trips to the FedExForum. ... Ndour’s previous career high this season was 13 against Chicago on Tuesday. “After every game, I ask myself if I can do this every single night,” the rookie said. “It’s not easy.”
Grizzlies: Ten of Conley’s 15 career 30-point performances have come this season. ... Conley is one of four players with at least 10,000 points, 4,000 assists and 1,000 steals in his career. LeBron James, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook are the others. ... Selden’s previous career high was 11 points on March 17 against Houston.
PORZINGIS NOT BACK, BECAUSE OF BACK
Porzingis missed his third game with a balky lower back. Porzingis made the trip, but couldn’t loosen up enough. “He wanted to play,” Hornacek said. “The long flight last night didn’t help it much, so it’s still (stiff).” After the game, Porzingis said he was “not too concerned” about the injury. “It’s all muscle really. Something is a little bit off.”
Memphis rookie Wade Baldwin launched a shot from near midcourt as the final horn sounded and the game well in hand. The 3-pointer dropped through, putting Memphis over 100 points and winning fans a couple of chicken tenders and potato wedges in a restaurant promotion. Lee was angry, as the former Grizzlies guard looked for Baldwin after the game to let him know such an unnecessary shot is unacceptable. He was stopped by several Memphis players.
KNICKS: Host the Toronto Raptors on Sunday
GRIZZLIES: Memphis continues its season-ending homestand Sunday afternoon against the Detroit Pistons.
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