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NEW YORK — The Memphis Grizzlies clinched a playoff spot for the fifth consecutive season on Monday night. They hope this is only the beginning.

Zach Randolph scored 23 points and Marc Gasol had 21, leading Memphis to a 103-82 win over the lowly New York Knicks.

The Grizzlies (50-21) shot 52 percent from the field in their third consecutive victory. Vince Carter added 14 points, Jeff Green scored 12 and Kosta Koufos had 10.

“This is the NBA,” said Randolph, who also had seven rebounds and five assists. “We have been together a long time and we have to keep playing. We know what we are playing and getting ready for.”

New York (14-57) committed 17 turnovers in its fourth consecutive loss. Langston Galloway scored 19 points, Andrea Bargnani had 18 and reserve Jason Smith finished with 16.

The Knicks grabbed their first lead of the game on Galloway’s 3-pointer with 10:31 left in the third, but the Grizzlies closed the period with an 18-5 run. Randolph’s driving layup gave Memphis a 74-61 lead heading into the fourth period.

“We fought hard. We were moving the ball on offense and getting good open shots. So, we got back into the game,” Smith said. “But then they got momentum, shored up their defense and never looked back.”

New York managed just 13 points in the third and 34 for the second half.

“We hang our hats on our defense and that’s where it was at,” Grizzlies coach David Joerger said. “We kept hammering away and Vince hit a couple of 3s that pushed it out.”

Carter made each of his four 3s in the fourth. He connected from long range with 10:26 left to extend the Grizzlies’ lead to 81-63.

“It is money time,” Carter said. “The second part of the season for me is most important. That is why they brought me in … to make shots. And, it is starting to pan out for me.”

New York pulled within 11 on Lance Thomas’ three-point play with 5:06 remaining. But Randolph made a hook shot on the other end and Carter hit another 3 to make it 93-77 with 4:15 to go.

“Vince hit two or three 3s down the stretch and it definitely killed us,” Galloway said.

Memphis, which has the second-best record in the West, extended its lead to 103-80 on Koufos’ layup with 1:34 left.

Gasol said a high playoff seed is important, but he thinks it is “more important to feel well about how you’re playing and feeling confident, especially in the West where everybody is so tough.”

(JEFFREY BERNSTEIN)

 

 

Source: The National Herald
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