New York, NY – J.R. Smith scored a game-high 35 points off the bench, as the New York Knicks held off a furious second-half surge from the Memphis Grizzlies to notch their sixth straight victory with a 108-101 decision on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
Carmelo Anthony followed with 22 points and seven rebounds, while Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton added 16 and 13 points, respectively, for the Knicks, who nearly blew a 30-point third-quarter cushion.
"It's coming down the stretch run and every game is important, and we're playing that way," New York coach Mike Woodson said. "That's how it should be at this stage of the season. There's a lot of things at stake."
Mike Conley contributed 26 points and six assists, while Jerryd Bayless tallied 24 points in the setback, Memphis' second in a row and third in its last four games.
"Obviously, it was a bad start, getting all the way down by 30 points," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "I'm proud of our guys, the way that they showed character and fought back."
It was all New York in the first half, as the Knicks shot a scorching 61 percent (25-of-41) from the floor, including 11-for-21 from beyond the arc.
Smith supplied 23 points over the opening 24 minutes, while Shumpert went 4- for-4 from long range and scored all 16 of his points in the first half to help the Knicks build a 69-41 advantage at the break.
Felton opened the second half with a layup to push the margin to 30 before the Grizzlies clawed their way back with a 17-2 surge that Tony Allen capped with a three-point play to make it 73-58 just over five minutes into the frame.
The Knicks were able to escape the third with a 16-point edge before Smith's three-point play to start the fourth pushed the lead to 89-70.
Bayless put the Grizzlies on his back from there, pouring in nine straight points to bring Memphis within 10 under three minutes into the stanza.
Back-to-back jumpers from Anthony around a Marc Gasol hook shot pushed New York's lead to 100-86 before Bayless buried a triple to spark a 9-0 Memphis run that trimmed the margin to 100-95 with 1:39 still to play.
Jason Kidd answered with a triple at the other end to quell the surge, but Memphis responded with four straight from the charity stripe to make it 103-99 with 33.3 ticks remaining.
Felton was quickly fouled and connected on the first free throw before missing the second. However, Felton was able to corral his own miss before finding Smith, who promptly hit two free throws to make it a seven-point game with 26.2 seconds left.
Bayless then came up empty on Memphis' next touch and Anthony knocked down two from the line to end the Grizzlies' comeback bid.
Memphis had won two straight in the series, including a 105-95 decision on Nov. 16 in Memphis ... Gasol returned from a two-game absence and finished with 13 points and five rebounds, while Allen finished with 18 points and 10 boards for the Grizzlies ... New York's six-game winning streak ties a season high, as the Knicks opened the season with six straight wins.