MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—After hitting a season-high eight 3-pointers, Mike Miller lamented on what could’ve been.
“I wish I would’ve been really shooting it,” the Memphis Grizzlies guard said after his team beat Minnesota 113-101 on Sunday night.
Really shooting it?
“I missed a couple there I don’t think I should’ve missed, but it is what it is,” he said.
In general, it’s been a season full of missed opportunities for the Grizzlies, but they’re trying their best to make up for it. Miller went 8-for-12 on 3s, scored 34 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Rudy Gay added 23 points for Memphis and Hakim Warrick had 20.
It was a hard-fought contest considering both teams are long out of the playoff picture. The Grizzlies and the Wolves, who were both coming off lopsided defeats to Western Conference foes, are trying hard to end the season on a positive note.
Memphis took advantage of Minnesota’s sluggish play in the first and fourth quarters to send the Wolves to their fourth-straight loss and sixth in the last seven.
“I think we’re still on a pace to become a pretty good team. I think it’s going to take a while, a couple more practices,” Gay said with a smile. “A lot of things just happened too late in the season.”
While the Grizzlies displayed good ball movement—they had 25 assists to Minnesota’s 19—the Wolves got caught up early in hoisting ill-advised shots without making the extra pass. As a result, Memphis jumped to a 21-8 lead in the first quarter before the Wolves woke up on offense.
“You can’t start a game off like that,” Kirk Snyder said.
Then, the teams traded the lead heading into the final minutes of the fourth quarter until Memphis sparked an 21-6 run by converting two consecutive three-point plays.
“It almost looked like we came out to play this game to get it over with,” coach Randy Wittman said.
The Wolves dominated the paint early, but the more athletic Grizzlies drove it more often, and finished with seven dunks and 16 more attempted free throws.
“We’ve been through a lot this year and it’s great to see the guys still working hard together and getting the victory in the process on the road,” Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni said. “It was a good win.”
Jefferson attempted only one shot in the first half—a dunk off a feed from Marko Jaric with 1:23 left in the second quarter. Not surprisingly, the Wolves’ offense sputtered early without much ball movement.
At one point, Wittman gathered his players for a 20-second timeout and yelled, “How about playing as a group right now?!”
Minnesota steadily whittled away at the deficit thanks to reserves Rashad McCants and Snyder, who combined for 20 first-half points.
“These are tough circumstances when you’re winding the season down and there’s nothing to play for,” Wittman said, adding that one of his team’s goals is to pass Memphis in the standings.
“For the end of the season, this was our little playoff run.”
Warrick, Darko Milicic and Miller combined for 37 of Memphis’ 54 first-half points. … Jaric and McCants were each hit with a technical with 3:16 to play in the first half after Jaric argued a non-call. McCants was on the bench and Miller hit both foul shots. … Wittman said he doesn’t know if G Sebastian Telfair (ankle) will return to action before the season ends. Telfair has missed the past 15 games since injuring his ankle March 7 at Sacramento.