Knicks’ Smith calls out Grizzlies’ Bayless after on-court scuffle
By Ben Golliver
The Knicks are about two things early in this NBA season: winning games and punking people.
New York’s unbeaten season finally ended on Friday, with a road loss to the Grizzlies, but the Knicks didn’t go down without some gum-flapping. Knicks forward Rasheed Wallace spent most of the game talking to just about everyone and guard J.R. Smith got into a second quarter shoving match with Grizzlies guard Jerryd Bayless that resulted in double technical fouls.
Following the game, Smith got after Bayless a little bit in comments made to the New York Post.
Bayless and Smith got entangled and Smith raised his left elbow, clocking Bayless in the upper chest. The 6-foot-2 Bayless shoved Smith in the face and then tried to get after the Knicks guard. A livid Bayless had to be restrained by teammates while Smith backpedaled away, laughing at the scene.
“Other than me trying to get the ball, I don’t know what he could’ve been mad at,’’ Smith said after the Knicks’ 105-95 loss to the Grizzlies, their first defeat of the season. “Some small guards have a little man’s complex. They got to work that out.’’
It’s unusual but in this case Smith is dead on in his personality assessment: Bayless, listed at 6-foot-3, definitely has a Napoleonic swagger to him.
A 2008 lottery pick traded by the Pacers to the Blazers on draft night, Bayless is on the fourth team of his five-year career with the Grizzlies. It’s a solid fit: he plays hard, is at his best when attacking the basket, and isn’t quite cut out to be a starter in this league. Memphis has a deep backcourt group, though, so he settles in nicely with Wayne Ellington and Quincy Pondexter in one of the NBA’s best second-units. His limitations in running the halfcourt offense are less obvious when he’s playing behind a big-minutes starter in Mike Conley, and his chippy personality is one of many in a locker room that includes Allen and Zach Randolph, two guys who will never lay down for anybody.
Bayless came out on top of this one, as the Grizzlies defeated the Knicks 105-95 to push their record to 7-1. Even better, he avoided an ejection (and apparently a suspension) for the incident, as he took the court for Memphis’ 94-87 victory over the Bobcats on Saturday. The “little man” and his teammates now stand alone atop the NBA with a league-best 8-1 record