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Conley helps lead Grizzlies past Bobcats

The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- When it was time to bust loose Tuesday night against a lesser opponent, the Memphis Grizzlies did so.

After playing pattycake for three quarters with Charlotte, one of the NBA's worst teams, the Grizzlies slapped the Bobcats around in the fourth quarter and rolled to a 94-75 victory at FedExForum.

Mike Conley posted his fifth straight 20-point game, ending with 20 points and seven rebounds for the Grizzlies (53-25), who are in fourth place in the Western Conference with four regular-season games left.

"The bench really got us out of a funk," said Conley, who along with four reserves blew open the game with a 22-5 run that gave the Grizzlies a 20-point lead with just less than six minutes to play.

"This game could have really been ugly, but they saved us. They came in and gave us a big boost. That's what we needed."

The Grizzlies' bench scored 39 points, including double-figure scoring from little-used Jon Leuer and Austin Daye, who had 11 and 10 points, respectively.

"I kept looking for people who had energy," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "I felt like we weren't scoring or running or executing. We weren't playing with the pizazz we needed. I went with a whole different group and rolled the dice by keep Mike out there to lead them."

Conley has had help lately from combo guard Jerryd Bayless, but Bayless missed his second straight game with a sore right knee. Not only did Conley have to play extended minutes, but having no Bayless meant Conley had to have the ball in his hands more than usual.

Trying to conserve his energy -- "Without J.B., I couldn't go 100 miles an hour," Conley said -- he chose his spots to be aggressive on both ends of the floor. At the end of the third quarter, he scored eight of his team's final 10 points and assisted on the basket he didn't score.

In the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies' bench scored 27 of the team's 31 points.

Charlotte trailed 63-57 at the end of the third quarter, a deficit Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap didn't mind at all. Even after the blowout, he knew his team hadn't played like a club that fell to 18-60.

"I really liked the way we approached the game against a playoff team," Dunlap said. "Point-blank shots would not go down in the fourth quarter, but we approached this game very professionally. I like the fact our guys are holding onto the rope and playing a good brand of basketball."

The Bobcats, led by guard Kemba Walker's 19 points, were able to hold their own against the Grizzlies by not getting killed on the boards and by turnovers, two elements that usually jump-start Memphis' up-tempo attack.

Memphis held a 48-44 rebounding advantage and scored only 11 points off 12 Charlotte turnovers. The Grizzlies had to win using their half-court offense, outscoring the Bobcats 50-34 in the paint.

Leuer, who has been a bit player since being part of a Jan. 22 trade with Cleveland, showed for the first time in 18 appearances that he could be a solid contributor. He was 4 of 4 from the field, 3 of 3 on free throws and assisted on back-to-back 3-pointers.

"I was just trying to be aggressive and take advantage of the opportunities when they were there," Leuer said. "I was able to knock down the first couple and get to the free throw line. After that, I got into a rhythm."

NOTES: Memphis is 31-8 at home, tying the franchise record of most home wins in a season set in 2003-04 when the team went 31-10 in The Pyramid. ... The Grizzlies have four regular-season games left, all against the Western Conference. Memphis finished 22-8 (73.3 percent) against Eastern Conference opponents this year. . .Charlotte has lost 13 straight road games, the second longest road skid by any NBA team this season. . .Memphis forward Zach Randolph, with 11 points and 13 rebounds, had his 43th double-double of the season (second in the NBA). . .The Grizzlies have held 67 of 78 opponents below 100 points this season, the highest number in the NBA and the second highest number in Griz history.
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