The New York Knicks have been outmatched without their top two scorers the last two games, and they hope for at least one of them to return when the Memphis Grizzlies pay a visit Wednesday night. Playing without Kristaps Porzingis (ankle, illness) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (leg), the Knicks fell behind by as many as 38 points in Monday’s 115-97 loss at Indiana, their fifth defeat in six games.
Porzingis appears closer to returning for a New York team that hopes to build on a 10-5 record at home. The Grizzlies were able to snap an 11-game losing streak with a 95-92 victory over Minnesota on Monday, their first win since firing coach David Fizdale last month. “It’s been awhile,” interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff told reporters. “You almost forgot what it felt like to win because guys want it so bad, and they’re emotionally invested. Every loss that kept popping up became a heavier and heavier weight.” Marc Gasol’s 21 points led the way for Memphis, which has still lost five in a row on the road.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Southeast (Memphis), MSG (New York)
ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES (8-15): Gasol was at the center of the recent organizational shift for Memphis, first apologizing to fans for the team’s lackluster play and then getting benched in the fourth quarter prior to Fizdale’s firing. The 32-year-old big man is averaging 21.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals in December after going for 17.8, 8.5 and 0.3 in the team’s difficult November, and he is fully invested in a turnaround for a squad that will get some key pieces back soon. “It was the biggest regular-season win that I have ever been a part of,” Gasol told reporters Monday.
ABOUT THE KNICKS (11-12): Center Enes Kanter has been a steady contributor in his first season with New York but was part of a starting unit that faltered at Indiana, prompting coach Jeff Hornacek to replace all five starters at once early in the third quarter. “When he takes all five out that means we’re not competing out there,” Kanter told the New York Daily News. “Yeah (I wanted to go back in), but I can’t do nothing about it. Take me out, take me out. Take everybody out. He’s the boss.” Kanter was held to a season-low seven points and Michael Beasley - who is filling in for Porzingis - had 13 but also a team-high five turnovers in just 14 minutes.
1. Memphis G Tyreke Evans is averaging 18 points and 7.5 assists while making 10-of-20 3-pointers in four starts while filling in for the injured Mike Conley.
2. Grizzlies SF Chandler Parsons (knee) has missed three of the last four games.
3. The teams split two meetings last season, with Porzingis’ 21 points leading the Knicks to a win in the one encounter at Madison Square Garden.
PREDICTION: Knicks 101, Grizzlies 95