Blazers Claw Back, But Can't Stop Grizzlies
April 21, 2012, 10:09 pm
Even with their postseason fate already sealed…even after falling behind by as many as 15 points in the third quarter…and even playing in a Memphis arena called the FedEx Forum, the shorthanded Portland Trail Blazers never mailed it in against the playoff-bound Grizzlies Saturday night.
The Blazers fought back to within two points in the final minute, but couldn’t quite claw all the way back against the Grizzlies, falling 93-89.
Rudy Gay scored 21 points and had a key block when the Blazers and Wesley Matthews went for the win with a three point attempt with about five seconds to play and down by two. Gay blocked Matthews’ shot and was then fouled to help seal the game, sending Portland to a season high fifth straight loss.
O.J. Mayo scored 14 points for Memphis, Marreese Speights added 13, along with Marc Gasol and former Blazer Dante Cunningham both chipping in 12.
J.J. Hickson continued to shine for the Blazers, recording another double-double with 23 points and 13 rebounds to lead Portland. Jamal Crawford scored 21 despite going 5 of 13 from the field, part of the Trail Blazers' 37 percent shooting for the game. Matthews had 16 points and Luke Babbitt added 10 in a starting role.
The win kept Memphis' hopes alive to try to reach the fourth seed in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies moved within a half-game of the idle Los Angeles Clippers, who hold the fourth spot.
Memphis outscored Portland 58-32 in the paint, and seemed in control until a final Portland burst late in the fourth quarter. Hickson scored seven early points in the fourth, part of a 10-2 run that pulled Portland within 83-77 with about seven minutes left.
Memphis coach Lionel Hollins responded by putting his starters back in the game. The Grizzlies rebuilt the lead to double digits as Gay scored inside and Gasol nailed two baskets.
Still, the Trail Blazers fought back with 10 straight points and trailed 91-89 with 10.1 seconds left with possession of the ball. That’s when Gay made the key block after a Portland timeout.
Memphis led 54-45 at halftime, bolstered by Mayo's nine points in the second quarter. The Grizzlies outscored Portland 30-18 in the period, erasing an early deficit.
Portland ended the night with 15 turnovers compared to 10 for Memphis, despite playing without LaMarcus Aldridge (out for season), Nicloas Batum (left quadricep tendinitis), Joel Pryzbilla (bronchitis), and Raymond Felton (personal reasons).
Pryzbilla and Felton are expected to join the team in San Antonio for Portland’s next game in this final three-game road trip to end the season. Tip-off Monday is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. You can hear all the action on 750 AM The Game, KXTG, Portland.