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Ja Morant, Grizzlies show just how dire things feel around Knicks

In a unique season, Mitchell Robinson’s stone-cold rejection of Ja Morant’s windmill dunk within the remaining minutes would have blown the roof off the Garden to punctuate a particular evening. This was how the Knicks of the Nineties did it, the Charles Oakleys and Anthony Masons, knocking some high-flying foe on his rump and staring down at him with a don’t-even-think-about-it shake of the top.

But these are the 2021-22 Knicks, and so it was just one other foul on the finish of just one other loss to a membership that has its act collectively in methods the Knicks solely wished they did.

The Memphis Grizzlies? Now there’s a basketball group. The Grizzlies are younger and enjoyable, lengthy and lean, and fixing to trigger large bother within the Western Conference playoffs. They personal the third-best document within the West at 36-18, which might land them atop the Eastern Conference standings, three nation miles forward of a persistently underachieving opponent they just defeated by a 120-108 rely.

What’s the purpose of claiming the Knicks are in deep trouble anymore? What’s the purpose of claiming they’re working out of time to show some urgency and save this season?

Nothing a lot ever adjustments. On an evening when Morant shoots 9 for 27, scores 23, and fails to ship the monster sport he wished to ship within the Garden, the Knicks couldn’t pounce and produce house a possible season-changing victory earlier than leaving for a five-game highway journey out west and beginning a 16-game stretch that may doubtless see them as underdogs in 15 of them.

“I’m not worried about down the road,” Tom Thibodeau stated. “I’m just thinking about the next game. We’ve just got to try to get the next game. The season’s moving along pretty quickly right now, and there has to be an urgency to this. Don’t look too far ahead.”

Ja Morant tries to dunk the ball over Mitchell Robinson.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

It’s laborious to keep away from the temptation. The Knicks have lost seven of 9 to fall to 24-28, good for twelfth place within the East. Twelfth. They journey to face the Lakers, Jazz, Nuggets, Warriors, and Trail Blazers, then play three of 4 house video games towards Brooklyn, Miami and Philly, earlier than confronting a seven-game highway journey that begins at Philly and Phoenix and ends at Dallas, Memphis and Brooklyn.

In different phrases, possibly the Knicks will get ’em subsequent year.

Robinson did give the house group 14 factors, 11 rebounds and eight blocks, and did ship just a little message to Mr. Morant for the subsequent time he tries to thunder dunk over his head. Evan Fournier did rating 30, and RJ Barrett, the third-overall decide within the 2019 draft, did go level for level with the second general decide, Morant, who’s the surefire famous person Barrett is hoping to turn out to be.

Midway by the second quarter, Morant gave the individuals what they paid for. When he gathered the ball on the quick break, forward of the sector, the gang launched the unmistakable sound of anticipation of the dunk to return.

Ja Morant dunks the ball towards the Knicks on Wednesday.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Somewhat greater than a minute later, ranging from the appropriate wing, Morant dribbled into the lane along with his left hand, then put Julius Randle within the spin cycle with a dramatic flip to his proper and a basket off the glass. On his subsequent possession, Morant powered previous Barrett and Immanuel Quickley for a left-handed layup, drawing extra ooohs and aaahs.

The Memphis level guard then dropped the hammer inside the ultimate minute of the primary half, catching the ball on the break and throwing a lob go to Ziaire Williams, who returned the favor with an alley that Morant ooped with two forceful fingers. He held the rim for an additional second or two, his hair bouncing with unmitigated pleasure. After he nailed the touchdown, Morant raised his left hand to the sky and stated, “Oh my God.”

At a spindly 6-foot-3, he’s a mix of in-their-primes Allen Iverson and Russell Westbrook. So that’s why the Garden projected a vibe of expectation all evening. Even in grim instances, Knicks followers may at all times respect the greatness of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James.

Evan Fournier
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

Nobody’s placing the 22-year-old Morant in that class, at the very least not but. But Knicks followers are going to harm for a very long time over lacking him within the draft by one decide the way in which they harm over lacking Steph Curry by one decide. Thibodeau known as Morant fearless and his performances superb.

“Just in the paint, creating havoc,” he stated. “He places a whole lot of strain on you always.

“He’s an offense unto himself. The explosiveness … his ability to change speeds, change direction, stop on a dime, go a different way, Eurostep. … It’s a lot to deal with, and then the explosiveness at the rim. So you’ve got to really guard him with your whole team, and he can still make plays.”

So getting into the constructing Wednesday evening, New Yorkers thought there was an opportunity of witnessing one thing fairly particular. If they obtained an inconceivable Knicks victory together with some magical Morant strikes, all the higher.

They didn’t get that inconceivable victory, shock shock. Nothing a lot ever adjustments about these Knicks, apart from the margin of defeat.