Carmelo Anthony said the Knicks have to treat every game from here on in like it's their last and they had that mentality Tuesday night for one half. It wasn't enough.
They played with a sense of urgency in the second half. They erased an 18-point deficit and led by seven in the fourth quarter. But the Knicks couldn't finish off the Grizzlies, and fell, 98-93, at FedExForum in their first game after the All-Star break.
"We couldn't close it," Mike Woodson said. "Right now we're kind of snakebitten a little bit."
Anthony missed his first seven shots and finished 8-for-22 with 22 points. His two free throws with 2:39 left gave the Knicks a 90-85 lead.
But they made just one field goal after that and were outscored 13-3 to end the game. The Knicks dropped to 20-33 and are 31/2 games out of the East's last playoff spot. "I'm proud of the way we fought but we got to win games," Woodson said.
The Knicks, who play in New Orleans Wednesday night, weren't in any rush to guard Memphis' Mike Miller Tuesday night.
The veteran shooter was open all game, and delivered a dagger three-pointer after Tim Hardaway Jr, put the Knicks up 93-91 with a three of his own with 1:04 remaining.
J.R. Smith was on Miller, but he followed Mike Conley who was cutting through the lane. It left Miller (19 points) alone at the top. He buried the three -- his fifth of the game -- with 45.9 seconds left to put the Grizzlies up for good at 94-93.
"One person takes the cutter and we have to rotate," Smith said. "We did a bad job rotating."
On the next trip, Anthony got inside and kicked it to Smith in the corner. Smith shot an air ball on a three with 24.9 seconds left. Playing his first game with a mask protecting his fractured cheekbone, Smith shot just 2 of 8.
"It's terrible to play with, but it's something I've got to do in order to play," he said.
The Grizzlies (30-23) rebounded Smith's miss and Conley was fouled. He made both free throws with 21.4 seconds left to give him 22 points and put Memphis up 96-93.
The Knicks had two chances to tie it, but Hardaway Jr. -- who scored 14 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth -- and Pablo Prigioni each misfired on three pointers. Courtney Lee closed out the scoring making two free throws.
"Very disappointing," Anthony said. "To fight our way back, to go up five, a couple of minutes on the clock and just kind of give it away, very disappointing."