Grizzlies 99, Timberwolves 86

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- While Memphis might be best known for Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, the Grizzlies reserves deserve much of the credit for Saturday night's 99-86 victory at Minnesota at Target Center.
Trailing by two entering the fourth quarter, Darrell Arthur, Jerryd Bayless and Quincy Pondexter made sure the Grizzlies would snap their five-game road losing streak. Memphis opened the final quarter on a 16-2 run and Arthur's 3-pointer from the right wing with 6:58 to play gave the Grizzlies an 81-69 lead.
Pondexter stretched the lead to 13, 86-73, with a 3-pointer with 5:11 to play. By the time the Memphis starters returned to the floor with 4:38 to play, the Grizzlies were firmly in control.
Gasol led Memphis with 21 points and eight rebounds while Conley added 19 points. Randolph scored 14 points for the Grizzlies while Arthur finished with 15, 11 in the fourth quarter.
Ricky Rubio's near triple-double wasn't enough for the Timberwolves. Rubio led Minnesota with 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Derrick Williams added 19 while Greg Stiemsma finished with 12.
The Timberwolves played without center Nikola Pekovic, who missed the game with a sprained ankle. Pekovic, Minnesota's second-leading scorer, has missed 18 games because of injury.
With the victory, Memphis swept both games of a Friday-Saturday back-to-back. Friday's victory over Houston and the win over the Timberwolves give the Grizzlies 49 victories this season, one shy of a franchise record.
Minnesota, which defeated Oklahoma City on Friday night, missed an opportunity to complete one of its best weekends of the season.
In addition to the fourth quarter bench play, Memphis was also very good defensively after halftime. Minnesota was limited to just 36 points after the break, only four more than the season low for second-half points for the Timberwolves.
The Grizzlies limited Minnesota to 17 third-quarter points and led 65-63 when Conley made a 3-pointer with 1:07 to play in the quarter. Minnesota, however, scored the final four points of the quarter and took a 67-65 lead into the final 12 minutes.
Seeking its first back-to-back sweep since December, Minnesota played a strong first half against the Grizzlies and led 50-45 at the break.
Despite playing without Pekovic, the Timberwolves did a good job against Memphis' inside duo of Randolph and Gasol in the first half. Minnesota out-rebounded the Grizzlies in the first half and held Memphis to less than 50 percent shooting before the break.
After the Timberwolves stretched their lead to 12 early in the second quarter, Memphis used a 13-2 run and closed within one on a Tayshaun Prince layup with 2:40 to play. Minnesota scored six of the final eight points of the half and led by five when Rubio finished a driving layup at the halftime horn.
NOTES: Minnesota has been able to score more frequently since the return of Chase Budinger from a knee injury. Saturday was Budinger's seventh game back and and the Timberwolves have averaged 105.8 points per game in the first six. In addition, two of the three times Minnesota has scored at least 115 points have come since Budinger's return. "He spaces the court," Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said. "People don't leave him whether he makes it or not. And he gives us really good ball movement." ... The Grizzlies entered the game having lost five consecutive road games, two of which were to likely lottery-bound teams (New Orleans and Washington). ... Conley has been on a roll for Memphis. Over the past 16 games, he is averaging 17.6 points, 7.4 assists and 2.4 steals per game. ... The Grizzlies are 14-1 this season while shooting at least 50 percent from the floor. They are also 22-1 when scoring at least 100 points.

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