Despite owning one of the worst records in the Western Conference, both Rudy Gay(notes) and Zach Randolph(notes) feel like the Memphis Grizzlies can beat anybody. Considering the way the team has been playing lately, it’s hard to blame them.
Gay and Randolph look to help the Grizzlies win their third in a row Tuesday night when they host the slumping Golden State Warriors, who try to avoid losing their sixth straight.
After a 1-8 start, Memphis (12-15) has quickly turned things around, winning 11 of 18 since.
Although some of those wins have come over struggling teams like Minnesota and Philadelphia, the Grizzlies have also claimed victories over division leaders Dallas, Cleveland and Denver in the past 2 1/2 weeks.
“We believe we can beat anybody,” Gay said after Sunday’s 102-96 win over the Nuggets. “We’re going out and making a mark for ourselves, making a name for ourselves.
“I think in the future, people will know that Memphis is going to be one of those good teams in the West.”
The Grizzlies, who lost 58 games last season, led Denver by as many as 23 points in improving to 7-3 at home since Nov. 14.
“This builds our confidence up a lot,” Randolph said. “We’ve got young guys, and when we win games like this, this is believing in us (as a) team that we can beat anybody.”
Randolph has been a big part of the Grizzlies’ 6-3 record this month.
Randolph, acquired in an off-season trade with the Los Angeles Clippers, matched a season high with 32 points and had a career-high 24 rebounds Sunday. He is averaging 21.8 points and 13.4 boards in December after averaging 16.5 points and 7.7 rebounds in his final six games of November.
“I think Zach is in a great comfort place,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “When he came here, we needed his veteran leadership, scoring and rebounding. He just fit like a glove, and that makes it nice for both sides when the situation is just made to order for you.”
One of the Grizzlies’ early defeats this season was a 113-105 loss at Golden State on Nov. 4. Randolph finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Gay, who is averaging a team-high 20.7 points, scored 29.
The Warriors (7-19) have only won six times in 23 games since beating Memphis.
Golden State is coming off Friday’s 118-109 loss to Washington, its ninth defeat in 10 games.
The seventh pick of this year’s draft finished with season highs of 27 points and eight rebounds against the Wizards, and also had three steals. In 10 games this month, Curry leads the NBA with an average of 2.8 steals.
“He’s just playing with confidence and that’s good to see,” Nelson said. “It’s just not the scoring; he is one the leaders in the league in steals. He’s a pretty good defender; he does a lot of things.”
Ellis, who scored 30 points Friday, has topped the 30-point mark eight times in the last 15 games.