The Memphis Grizzlies nearly let a huge lead slip away in their last game.
The Golden State Warriors did just that the last time they faced the Grizzlies.
Memphis goes for its fourth consecutive victory overall and sixth straight at home in this series Saturday night when the Warriors try to rebound from their worst shooting performance of the season.
After leading by as many as 23 in the second half, the Grizzlies (17-14) escaped with a 103-102 home win over Denver on Friday when Dante Cunningham tipped in Rudy Gay’s miss with less than a second remaining.
“The importance of that play - I don’t have the words for it right now,” guard Mike Conley said, “because I don’t think that Cunningham understands how big of a play that was for this team and where our path is going from here.”
With its third straight victory secured, Memphis now will go for its longest winning streak since a seven-game run Jan. 12-23, which culminated with a 91-90 victory at Golden State. Gay scored three of his team-high 23 points in the final 23 seconds as the Grizzlies dug themselves out of a 20-point third-quarter hole by scoring 39 in the last 12 minutes.
The home team had won the previous seven meetings between these teams.
Memphis has won of 10 of 13 at home versus Golden State and the last five meetings at FedExForum, including a 110-91 victory March 30 which assured the Grizzlies their first winning season since 2005-06.
Monta Ellis, who left near the end of that game with a sprained right ankle, should be available Saturday for the Warriors despite hyperextending his right knee with 17.1 seconds left in the third quarter of Friday’s 110-87 loss at Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City. The team said Ellis, who finished with 11 points, could have returned if the game hadn’t been so one-sided.
The Warriors (11-16) need Ellis, Stephen Curry and Dorell Wright to shoot better against the Grizzlies after they went a combined 12 of 37 from the field against the Thunder. Golden State’s shot a season-low 34.8 percent as a team.
“It’s a make or miss league and we just missed some shots,” coach Mark Jackson said after his team opened a stretch of eight of nine on the road. “It’s the first time in a long time we’ve struggled to make shots.”
Curry has been having that problem over the last four games, shooting 31.9 percent and averaging 10.5 points - nearly six below his season average of 16.4. He finished with 18 last month against Memphis, adding five assists, six rebounds and three steals.
Conley, who had 20 points and nine assists in that contest, is averaging 17.7 points and 7.0 assists during the Grizzlies’ winning streak.
Memphis center Marc Gasol is averaging 15.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in the three straight victories. He had 16 points, 14 boards and eight assists Friday, but also turned the ball over a career high-tying seven times.
Warriors forward David Lee’s string of double-doubles ended at three Friday when he finished with 23 points and six rebounds. Lee had 13 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in last month’s loss to Memphis.
The Grizzlies have won 11 of 16 overall at FedExForum. Their last home loss to Golden State was a 117-86 defeat April 4, 2008.