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Grizzlies win third straight, top Blazers

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Grizzlies were confident, winning five of their first seven games after the All-Star break. Then they went into Brooklyn and played like they were still jogging through the lay-up line.

But after a humbling loss to the Nets, the Grizzlies are winners of three straight and their 109-99 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night at FedExForum was also their third consecutive complete effort.

“We were feeling good about ourselves, a little too loose,” point guard Mike Conley (17 points) said of their approach at Brooklyn.

The Grizzlies (37-26) are a season-best 11 games over .500 and they also own a season-high seven-game home winning streak.

“Gotta take care of home,” said power forward Zach Randolph, who scored 18 points (8-for-19) with 12 rebounds for his 38th double-double of the season.

Memphis shot a season-high 56 percent from the floor (47-for-84) and the big guys were a major part of it. Center Marc Gasol scored 19 points (8-for-14 from the floor) with nine rebounds and seven assists.

In fact, the Grizzlies shot better than 50 percent in every quarter and made 12-of-19 shots (63.2 percent) in the second quarter. Their fourth-quarter lead was never less than nine points.

“They can really, really score,” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said of the Trail Blazers. “It was big for us to be able to play from the lead and just keep holding them off.”

Portland (42-22) lost its third game in a row despite a game-high 32 points and seven assists from point guard Damian Lillard. He scored 21 in the second half.

“I thought we played hard,” Lillard said. “They would just get a tipped ball or a loose ball and they would hit a three with it … or they would tap it and we end up scrambling for the ball. Then they get a bucket. It was just too many of those situations tonight.”

The Trail Blazers shot 40.7 percent (35-for-86) and though forward LaMarcus Aldridge scored 19 points with 10 rebounds, he was just 8-for-23 from the field. Forward Nicolas Batum had 15 points and eight rebounds.

“Defensively, we did a good job,” Gasol said. “We did a really good job on LaMarcus Aldridge by making every shot tough and being physical with him.”

“It was one of those nights,” said Aldridge. “I made (shots) off and on. I got to the basket better than I have all season. I just had looks that I didn’t make tonight.”

Shooting guard Courtney Lee (16 points) scored 13 of the Grizzlies’ 24 third-quarter points. Memphis led 78-69 at the start of the fourth after having stretched the lead to as many as 15 points in the third quarter.

The Grizzlies got the lead back to 15 points several times and Portland never got closer than nine points in the fourth quarter, the last time at the 1:14 mark when center Robin Lopez made a free throw.

Back-up point guard Nick Calathes had seven points with a career-high nine assists for the Grizzlies and Mike Miller chipped in 14 points off the bench.

The Grizzlies moved one game ahead of Phoenix for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. It has taken a long time for them to get to this point, but Lee says they are still in pursuit mode.

“The mentality’s still the same,” Lee said. “We want to go higher (in the standings). We’re still chasing.”

NOTES: Not normally known for 3-point shooting, the Grizzlies were first in the NBA since the All-Star break at 44.6 percent. Veteran G/F Mike Miller was shooting 44.6 percent from 3-point range for the season (fifth in the NBA) and 60.6 percent from beyond the arc since the All-Star break. … Portland G Wesley Matthews, G Damian Lillard and F Nicolas Batum have combined for 432 3-pointers this season, more than eight NBA teams have made all season. That includes the Grizzlies (315). … The Trail Blazers had the same starting lineup through the first 53 games this season, tied for the sixth longest streak in a season in NBA history. Portland has had only two different starting lineups during the course of the season. … Memphis SF Tayshaun Prince had started 821 games since the start of the 2003-04 season, second in the NBA behind LeBron James.