Grizzlies 92, Timberwolves 77

Ron Higgins, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS -- One month and 16 games remain in the regular season, and the Grizzlies just keep on doing what they've been doing.
Ball movement. Balanced scoring. Team defense with every defender moving on a string.
Against the good teams in the NBA, it's the difference in close wins. But against the bottom-feeders, it means bench-clearing blowouts, like the one the Grizzlies enjoyed Monday night, a 92-77 laugher over the Minnesota Timberwolves at FedExForum.
The Grizzlies (45-21) led just 45-39 at the half, but they opened the third quarter on a 13-2 run. Just six minutes into the period, Memphis' lead was 20, and it went as high as 25 before the Grizzlies began losing interest.
Five players scored in double figures for the Grizzlies, led by Mike Conley, who had 20 points and six assists. Marc Gasol (16 points, eight rebounds), Jerryd Bayless (15 points), Zach Randolph (14 points, 10 rebounds), Tayshaun Prince (12 points, 14 rebounds) also made key contributions.
Minnesota (23-42) got a team-high 12 points from Alexey Shved. J.J. Barea and Mickael Gelabale added 11 points apiece.
The Grizzlies were lethargic early, as they often have been against weaker teams. However, they matched to stay close and made a 9-0 run to take a 22-20 lead at the end of the first quarter. Memphis seemed to push the pace better, as well as get the ball inside, when Bayless came off the bench in the last seven minutes.
Try as they might, the Grizzlies couldn't pull away. The fact that Minnesota stayed relatively even on the boards prevented Memphis from getting in transition for easy baskets until the last few minutes before halftime. Memphis led 45-39 at the break.
Gasol and Randolph basically felt they could score every time they touched the ball. Gasol consistently had 17-footers off pick and pops with Conley, and Randolph missed only two of his six first-half field-goal attempts. Randolph shot 7-for-11 overall.
The Grizzlies hit their first six shots in the first 3:49 of the third quarter, exploding on a 13-2 run for a 17-point lead. Every Memphis starter contributed points to the quick start before exasperated Minnesota coach Rick Adelman called for a timeout.
It only got worse. Memphis hit 13 of 19 shots in the quarter, and it led 74-53 at the end of the third.
NOTES: The Grizzlies went 2-2 on last week's West Coast road swing, winning Tuesday and Wednesday at Portland and at the Clippers before losing Friday and Saturday at Denver and Utah. The reason the Grizzlies have stayed in the top five of the Western Conference all season is they've never had a losing streak longer than three games, which has happened twice (once each in December and January. ... The regular season ends April 17, so Memphis has to bear down if it wants a home-court advantage. The Grizzlies being a No. 3 seed playing No. 6 Golden State would be better than the fourth-seeded Griz playing fifth-seeded Denver or vice versa. "We played well and could have won all four on the road," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. ... Memphis' Darrell Arthur is still not fully healed from neck and back soreness. ... Minnesota was coming off a 97-95 win over New Orleans on Sunday. The Timberwolves last won at least two consecutive games during their four-game winning streak from Dec. 7 to Dec. 15.

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