Grizzlies-Nets Preview

The Associated Press

The Memphis Grizzlies likely don't want to leave after having some success during their longest homestand of the season. A matchup with the short-handed New Jersey Nets might make heading out on the road a little easier.

The Grizzlies will try to end their recent struggles away from home by handing the Nets a season-high seventh consecutive defeat Wednesday night.

After a 2-7 stretch that included the opener of a five-game stay, Memphis bounced back with three wins in four games to wrap up its homestand. The Grizzlies (15-14) held off Houston 93-83 in the latest of those Tuesday with some help from Mike Conley.

Houston managed to trim Memphis' 15-point lead to five with 2:58 remaining, but Conley scored seven points in the Grizzlies' game-closing 9-4 burst. The guard had 21 points - one shy of matching a season high - and Rudy Gay added 20 for his third consecutive game with at least that many points.

Tony Allen also helped hold Rockets star Kevin Martin to his first scoreless performance in nearly six years.

"We needed this win," Gay said.

Memphis could use more victories away from home - it's 1-5 in its last six on the road - but facing a Nets team still without Brook Lopez could help. The center returned to practice Tuesday but is not expected to see game action until Saturday at the earliest.

"I am not really looking forward to go going back to wearing my suit jacket and dress jeans tomorrow against Memphis, but it's definitely a step in the right direction," Lopez told the team's website.

Without Lopez, New Jersey (8-21) is averaging 92.8 points this season, and that has dipped to 90.4 per game during its past five losses. The Nets were held to 59 points through the first three quarters of a 103-89 defeat to visiting San Antonio on Saturday.

Shawne Williams suffered a mildly sprained shoulder during that loss, and he might join Lopez and Mehmet Okur (back spasms) on the sidelines. New Jersey, though, might get swingman DeShawn Stevenson (knee) back on the court.

Coach Avery Johnson said he's hopeful Stevenson will be available to help try to slow down Gay, but New Jersey won 93-88 last season at home despite his 22 points.

Lopez provided 17 points to help his team claim that victory and had 26 during a 101-94 win in Memphis on Dec. 21, 2010.

The Grizzlies have split their last four games in New Jersey, and Gay has averaged 24.7 points on 56.1 percent shooting in the past three.

"We've got to do it like we did (against Houston) and come out early, play hard and attack," Gay said. "We can't lay back and play from behind with a team like that. They're dangerous no matter their record. They are still dangerous so we've got to play hard."

Nets star point guard Deron Williams, meanwhile, has averaged 22.3 points over his last six games against Memphis and will face the Grizzlies for the first time as a member of the Nets. Williams has scored 24 or more points in five of his last six home games and at least 25 in each of the past three.

The Nets, though, are on the verge of their first five-game skid at home since dropping a franchise-worst 14 in a row Jan. 29-March 22, 2010, and their first seven-game overall losing streak since eight straight defeats Nov. 30-Dec. 14, 2010.

What to Read Next