MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—Mike Fratello isn’t ready to relax yet, even though his Memphis Grizzlies are just one victory from securing a playoff berth.
“I’ve never in sports assumed that anything is over until mathematically it’s over,” Fratello said after Memphis’ 102-95 victory Sunday over the Charlotte Bobcats.
With six games left in the regular season, the Grizzlies moved 4 1/2 ahead of Minnesota for the eighth and last playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies, who visit Dallas on Monday, won for the fifth time in six games and handed Charlotte its eighth straight loss.
“They were posting Shane a lot in the paint,” said Charlotte’s Primoz Brezec, who had 13 points and nine rebounds. “We tried to double team him and he found open teammates. I think the game came to a pass when our big guys couldn’t finish around the basket and make plays. Shane was causing too many strips under the rim.”
The Bobcats got within four points at 97-93 with 1:40 left to play on a pair of free throws by Brevin Knight, but couldn’t get any closer.
Knight, who led Charlotte with a season-high 22 points and 10 assists, said the Bobcats never gave up even though they had three turnovers in the final four minutes.
“We played hard tonight. They are a good team. We were in it to the end. The turnovers toward the end hurt our chances,” Knight said.
Memphis ended its scoring with three free throws by Battier and a jumper by Earl Watson.
Memphis began the final period with a 78-68 lead after Dahntay Jones hit a 3-pointer and Watson made a fastbreak layup at the buzzer ending the third quarter.
The Grizzlies closed the first half with a 16-6 run for a 52-46 lead at the break.
“Charlotte came out very aggressive and made us run real hard,” Gasol said. “They put pressure on us but we were able to make that run in the second quarter. We tried to match their aggressiveness tonight and we did that and got the win.” Notes: The Bobcats are 0-3 on a four-game road trip that ends at Atlanta on Monday night. … Charlotte has lost 15 of its last 16 road games. … The Bobcats began the day with a 15-60 mark in its inaugural season. The Grizzlies were 12-63 at the same point of their first season, in 1995-96 when the franchise was in Vancouver. … Memphis G-F James Posey, who has missed eight games with an injured hip, was in uniform but did not play. … Charlotte F Emeka Okafor had his 44th double-double of the season.