NBA News Wire

Grizzlies cruise past slow-starting Wolves

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With the Minnesota Timberwolves suffering a devastating loss Sunday night, the Memphis Grizzlies wanted to play no part in a rehabilitation process Monday.

Behind a stifling defense that limited the Timberwolves to 21 percent shooting in the first quarter and 37.8 percent for the game, the Grizzlies defeated Minnesota 109-92.

Memphis guard Mike Conley scored 23 points, forward Zach Randolph added 17, and center Marc Gasol contributed 14 points and 12 rebounds.

“We knew they always come out really strong,” Gasol said. “They always have great first quarters. It’s something they emphasize before the game. But we came out ready and made them earn every point they got.”

The win was the 10th straight at home for the Grizzlies, who have won 16 of their past 18 at FedExForum.

The Timberwolves (34-35) lost for the 16th time in their past 18 meetings with the Grizzlies (42-28).

Forward Kevin Love paced Minnesota with 16 points, while center Gorgui Dieng finished with 11 points and 17 rebounds.

The Timberwolves dropped a 127-120 decision at home to Phoenix on Sunday night despite leading the Suns by 22 in the first half and by 10 entering the final quarter.

Minnesota missed nine of its first 10 shots against the Grizzlies and was held to 15 first-quarter points. The Timberwolves scored at least 30 first-quarter points in each of the previous five games and were averaging 106.5 points.

“We caught a team on the second night of a back-to-back,” Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said. “We had some lapses. It wasn’t perfect, but we played defense and we pushed the basketball.”

The Grizzlies led by 18 at the half and increased their advantage to 25 points midway through the final quarter before Joerger eventually turned it over to the reserves.

“We just got off to such a bad start,” Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said. “We missed a ton of shots. They’re a good defensive team, but everybody missed shots. I don’t know if it was their defense or the way we were shooting the ball.”

Love, averaging 26.7 points, shot 6-for-18, including 2-for-8 from beyond the arc.

Minnesota never led, and it trailed by double digits for the game’s final 39 minutes.

“We just didn’t make shots early,” Love said. “(Sunday’s) game took a lot out of us in every aspect.

“As a team, there are going to be games like that. They’re a good defensive team, and their numbers show that. For me, I’m allowed an off game every now and then.”

The Grizzlies led by 18 at the half and increased the margin to 77-53 midway through the third quarter after an 18-4 run. Conley had nine points during that stretch, including a 3-pointer to cap it.

The Timberwolves answered by scoring the final nine points of the third quarter to cut their deficit to 81-68 entering the fourth.

Memphis put the game out of reach by opening the final quarter with a 10-0 run that included back-to-back 3-pointers from guard Mike Miller and Conley.

“We didn’t want to give them too much leeway because we have been in those same shoes,” Conley said. “You are coming in off a tough game and you kind of walk through the first part of the game. We just wanted to try to jump out there as early as we could, set the tempo and get ahead of them.”

Taking advantage of a cold-shooting Timberwolves team, the Grizzlies built a 21-point lead in the first half and led 57-39 at the break.

Memphis outrebounded Minnesota 54-42 and shot 52.7 percent. The Grizzlies scored 66 points in the paint, 24 more than Minnesota.

“They just kind of dominated us around the basket,” Adelman said.

NOTES: Memphis survived a scare late in the third quarter when G Mike Conley fell to the floor after apparently re-injuring his ankle. Conley, who missed seven games in early February after spraining his right ankle, returned to start the fourth quarter, however. … Since C Marc Gasol returned to the Memphis lineup Jan. 14 after missing 23 games with a left MCL sprain, the Grizzlies are 25-9 and have limited teams to 90 points per game. Gasol played in Saturday’s win over the Indiana Pacers despite suffering a Grade 1 left ankle sprain in Friday’s loss at Miami. … Gasol had nine rebounds in the first quarter Monday. … Grizzlies G Tony Allen (stomach bug) did not play. … Timberwolves G J.J. Barea (sprained left foot) and C Nikola Pekovic (sore right ankle) did not play. G Alexey Shved moved into Barea’s backup role, and he finished with five points and five assists. C Ronny Turiaf missed his 15th consecutive game with a bone bruise on his right knee. … Memphis improved to a season-high 14 games over .500.