MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- When the depleted Memphis Grizzlies needed to assert themselves during Friday night's 109-104 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, they relied, as they did when they were at full strength, on their defense. Holding the Timberwolves to 2-of-17 shooting in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies won for the 11th time in the past 12 games against Minnesota. The solid Memphis defensive effort including holding the Timberwolves to 0-of-6 from inside the arc. The Grizzlies also outrebounded Minnesota, 15-8, in the final period. Memphis was playing its second game without center Marc Gasol -- out for the season with a broken right foot -- and its first without key contributors Courtney Lee and Jeff Green, both of whom were dealt by the Grizzlies earlier in the week. As if the Grizzlies weren't short-handed enough, starting guard Tony Allen injured his left knee late in the second quarter and did not return. Allen scored nine points in 13 minutes before departing. "We could have come out there and hung our heads, got into our feelings about all the things that have happened in the past two weeks," Conley said. "Instead, we played. We go out and play hard and play together and have fun." Conley scored 25 points and forward Zach Randolph added 17 to lead the Grizzlies (32-22). Veteran guard Vince Carter came off the bench to score 15. Carter played 10 minutes in the final quarter. "We've been like this since I've been here," Randolph said of the team's resiliency. "We go against adversity and keep battling. You know, scratch, claw, do whatever you've got to do to get a win." Guard Zach LaVine led Minnesota with 22 points and forward Andrew Wiggins scored 20. Center Karl-Anthony Towns had 11 points and 15 rebounds for his 10th straight double-double. The Timberwolves (17-38) did not miss any of their 31 free throw attempts, but their downfall was shooting 12 percent in the fourth quarter. Minnesota also turned the ball over 22 times leading to 27 Memphis points. "You have to give them credit," Timberwolves interim coach Sam Mitchell said. "They had their hands in the passing lane . . . we just made too many careless turnovers." The Timberwolves led 81-76 after three quarters as LaVine scored 13 points in the quarter. The lead would have been larger had Carter not connected on a three-quarter court heave at the buzzer. "We called that the game-changer," Conley said. In the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies quickly erased their deficit behind Conley and newcomer Chris Andersen, the veteran center acquired in a three-team deal that sent Lee to Charlotte. The Grizzlies made 7 of 9 free throws in the closing minute to secure the victory. Memphis shot 49 percent from the field and got 11 rebounds from JaMychal Green, who started in Gasol's absence. The Grizzlies held Minnesota to 41.3 percent shooting and finished with 13 steals and five blocks. "I think we recognize that on a nightly basis this is how it's going to be: kick, scratch, bite, claw," said Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger. "We come out swinging every night. We've got to do it together." The Grizzlies led 51-48 at the half despite trailing by as many as 10 points midway through the second quarter. Memphis fell behind 40-30 after Minnesota forward Shabazz Muhammad dropped in a 3-pointer from the right corner. The Grizzlies recovered behind Randolph's muscle and Conley's outside touch to answer with 13 consecutive points, the final two on a fast-break dunk by forward Brandan Wright off a no-look, behind-the-shoulder pass from forward Matt Barnes. Randolph had four points and Conley a 3-pointer during the 13-0 run that gave the Grizzlies a 43-40 lead. Memphis didn't trail again during the final four minutes of the half. Carter's 3-pointer in the closing minute allowed the Grizzlies to take the three-point halftime lead. Both teams shot 46 percent from the field in the first half and the Timberwolves had a 22-20 edge on the boards. Minnesota was 6 of 11 from the beyond the arc in the opening half. NOTES: Since the start of the 2014-15 season, the Grizzlies are 56-7 when scoring 100 or more points. Memphis has scored 100 or more points in 13 of its last 14 games. ... In his final game before the All-Star break, Timberwolves C Karl-Anthony Towns scored a season-high 35 points and posted his ninth straight double-double. He entered the game against the Grizzlies averaging 22.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in his previous 12 games. ... Grizzlies F/C Brandan Wright, who missed the previous 46 games because of a right knee injury and subsequent surgery, played. "He's a professional and he worked out in (his hometown of) Nashville over the whole break," Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said. "He always stays in great shape." ... Timberwolves G Zach LaVine, MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge and winner of the slam dunk contest during All-Star Game weekend, entered Friday's game averaging 16.3 points in his previous 10 games and shooting better than 50 percent from the field.
Grizzlies clamp down late to beat Timberwolves
The Sports Xchange | Feb 19