Grizzlies 116, Timberwolves 110
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—The Timberwolves said defense and controlling the tempo were the keys to beating the Grizzlies.
The 116 points were a season-high for Minnesota, but down the stretch the Timberwolves made stops against the Grizzlies, while Memphis’ lack of defense prevented them from overtaking Minnesota.
“We had to make sure we didn’t get into a Memphis-type of game, up and down, back and forth, bucket for bucket,” Garnett said. “We didn’t want to do that. We wanted to slow them down and make them do something else.”
Minnesota took an early lead and extended it to 22 in the second period. While Memphis finally got the deficit under 10 midway through the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies never played enough defense to get any closer than the final margin. Memphis failed again to win back-to-back games. The Grizzlies, who beat the Lakers on Monday night, have not won two straight all season.
“I think the key to holding them off was getting that big lead early in the game and establishing the tempo,” Davis said. “If we had been up only eight or 10, they would have pushed it and made it a closer game.”
Minnesota won for the fifth time in six games. The Timberwolves’ last six games have all been decided by six points or less.
It marked the 13th straight game in which a Memphis opponent surpassed the century mark.
Down the stretch, the Timberwolves were holding off Miller and a group of reserves. Starters Rudy Gay and Damon Stoudamire didn’t get off the bench, and Gasol played a sparse 1:32 during the closing period. Interim coach Tony Barone didn’t talk about Gasol’s absence down the stretch.
“I was fine. Just a couple of bad actions on my part,” Gasol said when asked about it. “A couple of turnovers. I could have been stronger.”
Memphis got off to one of its worst starts in Barone’s seven-game tenure. Minnesota limited the Grizzlies to 35 percent shooting in the first period, when the Timberwolves shot 62 percent, and held a 17-5 rebounding edge and a 17-point lead.
“I think the key to the game was that we got into that funk in the first,” Barone said. “That hadn’t happened to us yet.”
The Timberwolves extended the lead in the second period to 22, their biggest advantage of the night, and took a 64-49 bulge into the locker room at halftime.
Garnett led Minnesota with 14, while starting guards Davis and James contributed 11 points and five assists apiece in the first half.
In addition to controlling the boards, Minnesota hustled after every loose ball and hit all 17 of its free throws in the half. The Timberwolves only missed only one of their 27 foul shots on the night.
Only Gasol’s 16 first-half points and Miller’s 11 kept Memphis close.
Minnesota also slowed down Memphis’ fastbreak. After scoring 39 fastbreak points—matching a Grizzlies’ franchise record—against the Lakers on Monday night, Memphis was limited to four breakaway points through the first three quarters. Memphis finished with 10 points off the break. Minnesota had only two.
“I don’t think offense was the thing we were worried about,” Garnett said. “When (Memphis) played the Lakers (Monday night), they scored 46 points in a quarter. That’s unheard of.
“We knew they were going to give us some buckets. I think it was us coming down and stopping them.”
Memphis got a bit of an energy boost from Cardinal, who came off the bench for some hustle plays, and Miller, who scored 10 in the third quarter, to cut into Minnesota’s lead slightly.
Even so, the Timberwolves took a 91-79 lead into the final period and held on through the Memphis’ rally.
“We did an excellent job creating our tempo early,” Minnesota coach Dwane Casey said. “We had to do it because we didn’t want to get into a race with them. We had to end the fastbreak type of game.”
Minnesota F Eddie Griffin began serving his five-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The suspension was announced earlier Friday. Griffin had not played in the last 13 games. … Minnesota’ 36 first-quarter points were a Timberwolves season-high for a quarter. … Memphis entered the game winning four of its last six against Minnesota. … The Grizzlies’ new offense has resulted in Memphis surpassing 100 points in six of seven games under Barone. They are averaging 116.6 under the interim coach.