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Grizzlies 84, Cavaliers 78

The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS -- If a team wants to go deep in the NBA playoffs, it's got to win games when it is totally uninspired.

That's exactly what the Grizzles did Monday night at FedExForum, recording an 84-78 victory over Cleveland after Memphis trailed for the first time this season entering the fourth quarter.

The Grizzlies (10-2) were outhustled the first three quarters, and they faced a seven-point deficit. However, they opened the final period with six consecutive points, and they made just about every play in the game's last five minutes.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Quincy Pondexter and Rudy Gay pulled Memphis into a 74-74 tie. Two Tony Allen free throws gave the Grizzlies the lead for good at 78-76 with 2:49 left.

Memphis outscored Cleveland (3-11) by a 22-9 margin in the fourth quarter.

Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol scored 19 points each for Memphis, and Gay added 15 points.

Cleveland was led by Anderson Varejao, whose relentless offensive rebounding resulted in 15 points and 22 rebounds. Dion Waiters also scored 15 points for the Cavs.

The Cavaliers led 47-42 at halftime, and a lot of it had to do with effort. Cleveland played like a team starving for a win, having already lost four games by four points or fewer, including a 110-108 defeat to defending the NBA champ Miami Heat on Saturday.

Memphis led by as many as eight points halfway through the first quarter, but the Grizzlies became rather casual in their efforts on both ends of the floor.

The Grizzlies cleared missed starting point guard Mike Conley, who didn't dress because of flu-like symptoms. Though backup Jerryd Bayless did an acceptable job running the team in Conley's presence, he didn't display Conley's explosion and penetrating ability that can break down defenses.

Also because Bayless moved to the starting lineup, seldom-used Josh Selby saw action off the Grizzlies' bench. He couldn't keep pace with Cleveland backup guard Daniel Gibson, who got his team in a running frame of mind that helped the Cavs take a 43-33 lead with 5:18 left in the first half.

The Grizzlies managed to cut the double-digit advantage in half at halftime because Memphis center Gasol got a couple of dunks in transition after beating Varejao downcourt.

Varejao's fatigue could be forgiven. He played a team-high 19:38 in the first half, and he already had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.

NOTES: Bayless entered Monday's game averaging 7.3 points and 2.7 assists, and he was shooting a career-high 44 percent from 3-point range. The 6-foot-3 guard, a five-year veteran who signed as a free agent in July, drew praise from his coach for his refusal to back down in physical challenges. "I like guys that are tough," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said, "and I didn't know he was that feisty, that tough of a kid. It's a pleasant surprise. He's not afraid to go in there and mix it up a bit."
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