For the first time in franchise history, the Memphis Grizzlies are headed to the playoffs.
Now, they’ll look to extend their five-game winning streak and earn home-court advantage in the first round as they visit the Atlanta Hawks.
“It’s a great turnaround for the franchise,” said Pau Gasol, who had 23 points and a season high-tying 18 rebounds. “We’ve surprised ourselves. I can’t believe where we are at this point. It’s just wonderful.”
The Grizzlies, who are in their ninth NBA season, entered this season with an overall record of 152-472.
“It just feels good to be on a winning team,” said Stromile Swift, who scored 18 points. “This is my fourth year. In Vancouver we didn’t win many games.”
Owner Michael E. Heisley moved the Grizzlies from Vancouver to Memphis in 2001 and hired Jerry West as general manager the following year. Swift is the only player left from the Vancouver squads.
“It’s wonderful for Mr. Heisley,” coach Hubie Brown said.
The Grizzlies, who have won 13 of their last 15, are in fifth place in the Western Conference, one game behind fourth-place San Antonio and five behind first-place Sacramento. The top four teams earn home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Hawks are coming off Saturday’s 97-88 win over the Chicago Bulls, giving them back-to-back wins for just the second time this season.
Atlanta, which won two straight in February, needed 73 games to take consecutive wins twice this season.
“Wow. That’s pretty unbelievable,” said Jason Terry, who scored 26 points. “That’s why our record is what it is. In this league, you have to put good games together constantly.”
Stephen Jackson added 27 points for the Hawks, one game after snapping his streak of 33 straight in double figures.
Atlanta signed center Jason Collier, who is averaging 12.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in eight starts, for the rest of the season Sunday after he completed two 10-day contracts.