Thu04172014

Sports

Grizz grind working in the ‘Wild Wild West’

There’s a battle going on and the Grizzlies have pulled out all the stops. It’s the clash of the Western Conference, the “Wild-Wild West.”

 
 The Grizzlies defeated the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday (April 11) at the FedExForum, extending the winning streak to four. (Photos by Warren Roseborough)

 
 Rudy Gay scored a season high 32 against the Suns Wednesday. The Grizzlies won 104-93.

That’s how Memphis Grizzlies guard O. J. Mayo refers to the conference that’s piled with teams competing for a playoff spot.

“The Western Conference is usually the best conference from top to bottom,” Mayo told The New Tri-State Defender. “It’s really difficult going down the stretch. It’s a little fatigue. A lot of games crammed up in a short amount of days. You have to fight through it.”

The Grizz have been fighting, and winning of late. Memphis has won its last three games in five days at home, garnering wins against the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers and on Wednesday (April 11) in front of 15,239 fans at the FedExForum, the Phoenix Suns.

Memphis’ defeat of Phoenix extends the teams winning streak to four games. Mayo finished with 15 points and four rebounds.

“They (Phoenix) have won two out of three (against the Grizzlies),” Mayo said. “They do a great job of spreading the floor. They key thing is making sure you don’t get so much into their style of play that you forget to play defense, and the first half it was kind of like that. The second half we knew that we could get a lot of stops and continue scoring.”

Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay led the team with a season-high 32 points and seven rebounds. This marked the first time a Grizzlies player has scored more than 30 points this season, with Gay looking to compete in his first playoff run.

Memphis is holding on to the fifth seed in the Western Conference, and is only one and a half games behind the Clippers.

“We’re still battling,” Gay said. “We’re still bunched up in the West. You see in the Eastern Conference they can start resting teams. We can’t do that. We have to play throughout. With the compiled schedule and the shortened playoffs, it’s going to be tough.”

Zach Randolph brought power off the bench, scoring 17 points and grabbing a game-high nine rebounds.  

“It was really important for us,” Randolph said of the win. He explained the toughness of the Western Conference.

“It’s really difficult. It’s tough. Each game is a battle. We have to come prepared, play hard and play together.”

Phoenix’ loss to the Grizzlies bumped them out of the eighth seed.

“It’s really difficult for us because we’re not in the playoffs and we’re trying to catch teams,” said Suns head coach Alvin Gentry. “For us, every game is like a playoff game. We just have to keep battling and see where we can get. I think they’re (Grizzlies) a very good team. I think Lionel (Hollins) has them playing great.

“When you can go on the road and you beat the Lakers, you win at Oklahoma City, beat Dallas here in a game and win at Miami, that’s pretty good,” said Gentry. “As long as they’re healthy, I think they’re as good as anybody we’ve played in the West.”

Suns’ guard Steve Nash finished with 11 points and a game-high 11 assists, registering his 27th double-double of the season. Center Morcin Gortat led the team in scoring with 19 points.

The Grizzlies left Memphis Wednesday night, headed to San Antonio to face the Spurs, who are currently the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and battling the Oklahoma City Thunder for the top spot.

“It’s a big game,” said Gay of the matchup with the Spurs. “We really can’t lose right now.  We’re going to keep pushing and pushing. We’re just taking them as another team. Obviously, it’s going to be a little emotional being that we’ve been there and have a little history with them.  The biggest thing is just trying to keep these wins up.”

NOTE: Grizz Guard Tony Allen has missed the last four games due to a facial laceration he suffered in the game against the Mavericks on April 4 in Dallas. He is listed as day-to-day.

 

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