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Grizzlies move into West’s last playoff spot

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Guard Courtney Lee did not cheer when told the Phoenix Suns had lost Friday night and his Memphis Grizzlies had climbed ahead of the Suns for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.

“It’s good news,” Lee said after the Grizzlies had defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 117-95 at FedExForum for their franchise-tying 13th straight home win. “But we know we have to continue to take care of what we can take care of.”

That was exactly what they did against a 76ers team that earlier this season lost 26 straight games.

“It’s the NBA,” said Lee, who scored nine points Friday night. “Anything can happen. A team can catch a heat wave and cause trouble.”

Anything didn’t happen Friday night as the Grizzlies led by as many as 27 points in the fourth quarter and were able to get key players rest.

Memphis (47-32) has the same record as Phoenix but owns the tiebreaker.

Center Marc Gasol, who led Memphis with 21 points and 10 rebounds, played only a minute of the fourth quarter. Point guard Mike Conley (eight assists) and power forward Zach Randolph (10 points and 11 rebounds for his 46th double-double) didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter.

Six Grizzlies scored in double figures. Swingman Mike Miller scored 19 off the bench and guard Tony Allen chipped in 15. But everyone was buzzing about Randolph taking a charge.

“Fantastic,” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. “All our guys were like, ‘Ok, we’re very serious.'”

Said Conley: “That’s probably like the third charge I’ve seen him take in his career.”

The Grizzlies are also just a game back of Dallas for the seventh seed. The Grizzlies finish with road games against the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix next Sunday and Monday, and then play the Mavericks in Memphis next Wednesday.

Philadelphia (17-62) trailed by 10 at halftime and cut the deficit to 63-57 with 7:08 left in the third quarter after a 3-pointer from forward Thaddeus Young, who had 18 points.

“I felt like we were in the game,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said.

But Memphis outscored the 76ers 24-7 the rest of the quarter and carried an 87-64 lead into the final frame.

“That third period set the table for the rest of the night,” said Brown, who singled out reserve forward Brandon Davies (two points and six rebounds in nine minutes) for the way he played. “Stood out in regards to ethic and just continuing to bang it out. The core group — the group that normally plays — I didn’t think any of them played well.”

Memphis shot 54.3 percent (44-for-81). Philadelphia shot 44.3 percent (39-for-88). The Grizzlies won the boards 49-36 and scored 60 points in the paint. They handed out 28 assists.

Guard Tony Wroten scored 18 points off the bench for the 76ers, and forward Elliot Williams finished with 13 points.

The 76ers are 2-5 since ending the 26-game losing streak.

“We have a lot of draft picks and this is a big draft,” Young said, looking ahead to the summer. “And me personally, I think the future is big for this organization and for this team.”

Meanwhile, Memphis was just looking toward Sunday and a game with the Lakers at Staples Center, and then the game in Phoenix on Monday.

“We have to get our feet on the ground in Los Angeles, “Joerger said. “They have to handle their tickets and handle their family. Everyone knows someone in L.A. This is very much a business trip.”

NOTES: Grizzlies F Tayshaun Prince sat out his third straight game with a sprained left ankle. … Memphis C Marc Gasol played 44 minutes in the win over Miami on Wednesday, F Zach Randolph played 42 minutes and PG Mike Conley was on the floor for 41. Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger would not say he had a set number of minutes he wanted the three to play Friday against a Philadelphia 76ers team that came in with just 17 wins, but clearly he was hoping to rest them. “We’re gonna need a big shot in the arm from our bench,” Joerger said before the game. … Several 76ers have Memphis connections, including former Grizzlies G Tony Wroten and G Elliot Williams and swingman Adonis Thomas, who both played for the University of Memphis. Thomas, Williams and forwards Thaddeus Young and Arnett Moultrie all played high school ball in Memphis.

Alan is an expert gambling writer who works as one of the chief editors for Basketball Insiders. He has been covering online gambling and sports betting for over 8 years, having written for the likes of Sportlens,, The Sports Daily, 90min, and His particular specialisms include US online casinos and gambling regulations, and soccer and basketball betting. Based in London, Alan holds an MA in English Literature and is a passionate supporter of Chelsea FC.

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