Trail Blazers Host Gasol, Conley And The Not-So-New Look Grizzlies

by Casey Holdahl
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The Portland Trail Blazers (6-4) reach the midway point of an six-game, early-season homestand by hosting the Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday night at the Moda Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Tuesday’s game is the first meeting between the two teams this season after the Trail Blazers took the season series 2-1 last year. The teams have mostly played even each other to a duel the last two seasons, with Portland owning a slight edge by taking four of the last seven matchups and two of the last three games at the Moda Center.

But this isn’t the same Grizzlies team whose core had remained relatively unchanged for the last five seasons. Players such as Zach Randolph, Tony Allen and Vince Carter, stalwarts of Memphis’ “Grit and Grind” era, have been replaced by the likes of Tyreke Evans, James Ennis III, Mario Chalmers and rookie and former Oregon Duck Dillon Brooks.

“They’ve a very good defensive team, they’ve a very smart team,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts of the Grizzlies, who lead the NBA in opponent field goal percentage. “Their second unit is very dynamic, good defensively. They create turnover, slow possession game, kind of grind it out.”

But with veterans Marc Gasol and Mike Conley still running the show, "Grit and Grind" is still alive and well in Memphis, with head coach David Fizdale leading his team to a 6-4 start with wins against the Warriors, Rockets (twice) and the Clippers.

“You know what you’re going to get when you play them,” said Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard. “They play really hard, really active, really physical. They’ve got two guys in Mike Conley and Marc Gasol that are all-star level players. They have other solid players but they’re very complimentary of those two guys. They’ve been winning games, they’ve started off well so I’m sure it will be a tough game for us but we’re ready for it.”

Portland enters Tuesday’s contest having won the first two games of their six-game homestand, the most recent being a 103-99 victory versus the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. Lillard led the Trail Blazers to that victory with 36 points and 13 assists, making him the first Trail Blazer since Clyde Drexler in 1984 to put up at least 36 points and 13 assists in a game.

The Trail Blazers will be without Al-Farouq Aminu (right ankle) and Meyers Leonard (right ankle) for Tuesday night’s game. JaMychal Green (left foot/ankle) and Wayne Seldon (right quad) are both out for the Grizzlies, as are Ben McLemore and rookie Ivan Rabb, who are both on assignment in the G League.

Tuesday night's game can be seen locally on NBC Sports Northwest with Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd and Brooke Olzendam. Scott Lynn, who is filling in for Brian Wheeler during his leave of absence, and Michael Holton will have the radio call on Rip City Radio 620 AM and on all of the stations of the Trail Blazers Radio Network.