Updated at 12:16 a.m., March 28, 2013
NEW YORK (AP) — Look who has the NBA’s longest winning streak now.
The New York Knicks, mired in a bad slump just two weeks ago, tied a season high with their sixth straight victory by holding off the Memphis Grizzlies, 108-101 on Wednesday night.
J.R. Smith scored 35 points, his second straight 30-point game, to help the Knicks withstand a furious rally.
“I started off establishing my game on the inside and moving on from there,” said Smith, who shot 10 of 18 from the field and 12 of 13 from the free throw line. “Fortunately, I got a lot of calls, got to the free throw line and was making my free throws, except for one. My mom is going to kill me, but I’ll take it.”
Smith scored 32 points against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday.
Carmelo Anthony added 22 points and Iman Shumpert had 16 for the Knicks, who started the season 6-0 but had played around .500 ball for much of the time since. They took over the NBA’s longest win streak after Miami’s 27-game run ended with a 101-97 loss in Chicago.
After trailing by as many as 30 points early in the second half, the Grizzlies cut their deficit to 103-99 on Tony Allen’s two free throws with 33 seconds left.
However, they got no closer as Raymond Felton, Smith and Anthony scored the game’s next five points at the free throw line.
“Games happen in spurts,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “To win games by 30 going away isn’t that easy sometimes.”
With the Knicks leading 71-41 early in the second half, the Grizzlies went on a 29-13 run and cut their deficit to 84-70 on Jerryd Bayless’ 3-pointer with 32 seconds left in the third quarter.
Two free throws by Smith gave the Knicks an 86-70 lead heading into the fourth.
After Smith opened the final quarter with a three-point play, the Grizzlies pulled within 89-79 with a 9-0 run, as Bayless scored all nine points.
Quincy Pondexter’s jumper with 1:38 remaining cut the lead to five, but Jason Kidd hit a 3-pointer with 1:16 left to stall the comeback.
“In the second half we got a little lax,” Shumpert said. “They started to feel good and then we got a little rattled and got into the referees. We know where we messed up.”
Shumpert scored 13 of the Knicks’ first 15 points. His 3-pointer with 8:13 left in the first quarter broke a 7-all tie and the Knicks led the rest of the game.
New York ended the first quarter on a 30-18 run, shooting 72.2 percent from the field (13-for-18) for the period to take a 37-25 lead. They increased their lead to 30 points in the second quarter, 69-39, on another 3-pointer by Shumpert with just 9 seconds left before settling for a 69-41 halftime lead.
“Obviously, it was a bad start, getting all the way down by 30 points,” said Memphis coach Lionel Hollins. “I’m proud of our guys, the way that they showed character and fought back. We had to finally find a lineup that could both guard and score. We worked our way back, but we just didn’t have any margin for error.”
Shumpert connected on all six of his field goal attempts in the first half, including 4 of 4 on 3-pointers, while the Knicks shot 61 percent overall, including 11 of 21 (52 percent) from 3-point range.
“Early on, we recognized that they put a big man on me,” Shumpert said. “I took that as disrespect. Once everybody saw me feeling good, the bucket got big for everybody.”
Mike Conley led Memphis with 26 points and Bayless finished with 24. Allen had 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Marc Gasol, who missed the previous two games with an abdominal tear, finished with 13 points.
“I felt I could play and could help my teammates,” Gasol said. “That’s the bottom line. Obviously we didn’t win and that didn’t make me feel any better. Like I said, if I can play, I will play. That’s the way it’s always been with me and hopefully that’s how it’s always going to be.”
NOTES: Tyson Chandler missed his eighth straight game for the Knicks with a bulging disk . The Knicks’ 69 points at halftime were their highest total this season. They scored 68 against the Lakers in a 116-107 win on Dec. 3 . Memphis has lost five straight road games for the first time since Nov. 15 to Dec. 6, 2010 . Marcus Camby was ejected from the game after picking up two technical fouls with 8:12 left in the third quarter.
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