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Preview: Grizz to take on Knicks in NY tonight

Eight days after a last-second shot by Carmelo Anthony sank the Memphis Grizzlies, the Grizz match-up with the New York Knicks in hopes of avenging the crushing home defeat on March 9. Memphis split a pair of games in the ensuing week and remains entrenched in the eighth and final spot of the Western Conference playoff race, but with road games looming against the East’s top two teams, Boston and Chicago, this may be its best opportunity for another win away from home this month.

As for the Knicks, they’ve found little luck since ‘Melo’s heroics, losing three-straight and ending up on the wrong end of a buzzer-beater in Indiana on Tuesday. Whether the Knicks run into some St. Patrick’s Day luck and end a three-game skid will depend on the Grizzlies’ ability to defend the perimeter. The Knicks tallied 12 triples to the Grizzlies’ three in their first meeting, and while the Grizzlies’ winning formula doesn’t usually include an abundance of three-pointers, too large of a disparity from behind the arc has proven difficult to overcome.

Here are some more keys to the game:

Here we go again?
On March 9 against the Knicks, Memphis fought back from a 17-point second-half deficit to tie the game at 108 on an and-1 by Zach Randolph with 14.2 seconds to play. Had they completed a comeback win, it would have marked double-digit second-half comeback number nine for the Grizz, who have played hard to the final whistle in virtually every game this season. Memphis’ last road game, which resulted in a loss in Miami on March 12, was their first defeat of 20-or-more points this season. Comparatively, the Grizzlies own five such victories over their opponents this season. Regardless, don’t expect a blow-out either way. This should be another nail-biter when these two playoff-hungry teams both vie for a much-needed win.

Rudy-mentary stat of the night
Though the sample-size is small, the Grizzlies have fared well without Rudy Gay thus far, posting a respectable 6-5 record without their star forward in the 11 games since Gay went down with a left shoulder subluxation. As Gay continues his rehab, Tony Allen, Shane Battier and Sam Young will continue to emulate him in any way they can. Allen and Young have upped their offensive production, posting 12.9 and 8.6 points, respectively, since the All-Star Break, while all three have stepped in with major contributions defensively. In the 11 games without Gay, the trio has averaged a combined 3.43 steals and 1.89 blocks. For the Grizzlies to even the season series, they’ll need a strong defensive effort to hold the Knicks under the century mark. The Grizzlies are 29-12 when holding opponents under 100 points, and just 8-19 when they don’t.

Billups is back
Chauncey Billups missed the March 9 matchup in Memphis with an injury, but has since returned to the starting lineup. Of course, the Grizzlies are quite familiar with Billups from his days with the Denver Nuggets. While the former All-Star has had some success against Memphis—and the rest of the NBA—the Grizz have played Billups tough this season, forcing him into 10 miscues in two games with the Nuggets this season. Toney Douglass filled in admirably for Billups a week ago, posting his first career double-double with 18 points and a career-high 10 assists, so it will be interesting to see just how much of an impact Billups has in the rubber-match.

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