After handing the New York Knicks their first loss of the season, the Memphis Grizzlies now have the NBA’s best record.
Zach Randolph had 20 points and 15 rebounds, Marc Gasol added 24 points and the Grizzlies beat the Knicks 105-95 Friday night, ending New York’s season-opening eight-game winning streak.
Memphis used a big third-quarter run to increase its lead to 21 points and the advantage dipped into single digits just once in the fourth.
The Grizzlies (7-1) have now beaten the defending champion Miami Heat, the reigning Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder, and the previously undefeated Knicks — all by double digits — this week.
“We are trying to make a statement,” said Memphis guard Mike Conley, who scored 16 points and had eight assists. “We are making a statement that we can play with anybody on any given night.”
Carmelo Anthony scored 20 points for New York, which was trying to start 7-0 for the first time since the 1993-94 season — when it reached the NBA Finals. Raymond Felton had 18 points and Rasheed Wallace added 13 on 6-for-10 shooting.
The game got away from New York in the third quarter, when the Knicks seemed to lose their composure during Memphis’ rally, complaining about calls and drawing technical — including one on Knicks coach Mike Woodson.
“Our guys are competitive. They want to win,” Woodson said. “We are on a six-game winning streak. We didn’t want that streak to break. But it did, so we have to start a new streak.”
The Knicks shot 51 percent for the game, but Memphis had 12 offensive rebounds, leading to a 22-12 advantage in second-chance points.
“We just couldn’t rebound the ball,” Knicks point guard Jason Kidd said. “We knew that coming in here, we couldn’t give those guys second opportunities because they would capitalize on it.”
Memphis opened the second half with a 23-7 spurt, a rally that built the advantage to 77-56.
New York cut into the margin slightly, but Memphis still carried an 85-67 lead into the fourth after outscoring the Knicks 31-18 in the third.
The Knicks started a comeback to open the fourth, outscoring Memphis 12-3 to pull to 91-81 with 6:18 left on Felton’s jumper in the lane.
New York appeared poised to make a comeback reminiscent of Thursday night’s win at San Antonio, when the Knicks outscored the Spurs 27-11 in the final 7:14 for a 104-100 victory.
But New York never got closer than eight the rest of the way.
“The third quarter got away from us,” Anthony said. “Techs, they made some shots. We missed some shots. They got the momentum, kind of slowed the game down. We made a run and cut it to eight, but they already had the momentum going, so we were just in an uphill battle from there.”
Memphis will try to maintain its winning streak and hold onto the best record in Charlotte on Saturday night when the Grizzlies face the Bobcats in their first back-to-back of the season.
Meanwhile, the Knicks were already thinking about starting a new winning streak Sunday at home against the Indiana Pacers.
But while the talk was of moving on, several Knicks, still stinging from the loss to Memphis, were thinking ahead to the teams’ next meeting.
“One thing we’re saying,” Wallace said of the Grizzlies, “they’ve got to come to the Garden.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.