The Memphis Grizzlies aren’t satisfied with what has already been the best season in franchise history.
The Grizzlies hope to rebound from a disappointing home loss when they host the Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Pacers.
Memphis, which has already assured itself the first winning season in team history, have lost two of three since reeling off seven straight victories from Feb. 28-March 12.
On Thursday, Memphis squandered an opportunity to pick up ground in the Western Conference playoff race, losing 97-94 to Seattle, a team that is on the outside looking in at the postseason picture.
Pau Gasol had 21 points, 15 rebounds and six assists, but missed a potential tying 3-pointer with two seconds to play as a furious Memphis rally fell short.
“We did a pretty good job tonight getting back in the fourth quarter, but they just made some big shots at the end,” Gasol said. “We have to work hard and just do a better job in the first half to not put ourselves in that kind of position.”
The loss snapped a four-game home winning streak for the Grizzlies, who squandered a chance to move into a tie with Dallas for fifth place in the West.
“We didn’t come to play in the first half,” said Grizzlies forward Shane Battier after a 2-of-11 shooting performance. “We got down and put ourselves in a hole again. We made a lot of mistakes and missed free throws, and in a close game like that, it is the difference.”
Artest was suspended for one game without pay by the NBA on Friday for elbowing Portland’s Derek Anderson. Artest hit Anderson in the face during Indiana’s 80-71 victory Wednesday night. No foul was called on the play.
“Certainly his absence isn’t the reason we lost,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “It was really a matter of keeping a certain level of aggression, which we just did not do.”
Indiana has lost two of three since a seven-game winning streak, but holds a comfortable nine-game cushion over New Jersey for the best record in the East. The Pacers are also a half-game in front of the Kings for the top mark in the league.