Gasol, Jones Lift Grizz To Seventh Straight
Memphis 102, Charlotte 95
MEMPHIS, Tenn., March 26 (Ticker) -- Eddie Jones came through in the clutch to keep the Memphis Grizzlies rolling toward the postseason.
Jones had a steal, two free throws and a 3-pointer in the final two minutes as the Grizzlies won their seventh straight game, a 102-95 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
"We were uncertain whether we were even going to play," Jones said. "We were sitting back in the back wondering if we were going to play. We had guys watching the (NCAA Tournament), and our concentration level was gone. ... Our minds were all over the place. It was a total distraction, but I thought we gave the fans a pretty good game. I just didn't want it to be that good."
All-Star Pau Gasol had 33 points and 15 rebounds for the Grizzlies (41-29), who moved back into a virtual tie with the Los Angeles Clippers for fifth place in the Western Conference. Memphis' winning streak broke the Grizzlies' previous season-high streak of six and is one shy of the franchise record set in 2004.
"It was weird because for a while, we didn't think we were going to play," Gasol said. "We were stuck on a bus for like 30 minutes, except for Shane (Battier), who just decided to walk out of the building."
Battier, who collected five points, five rebounds and five blocks, evacuated the building along with the fans and sat outside on a curb among them until firefighters announced it was safe to return.
"That was all about self-preservation," Battier said, laughing.
Playing the Bobcats for the first time this season, the Grizzlies found themselves in an 87-87 tie with 5:42 remaining after a jumper by Charlotte's Brevin Knight, who had 17 points and 16 assists.
Gasol responded with a free throw and rolling hook to give Memphis the lead for good before Primoz Brezec made three straight baskets for Charlotte, cutting the deficit to 94-93 with 3:07 left.
Jones stripped Kareem Rush, then drew a foul at the other end. His two free throws gave the Grizzlies a 96-93 lead with 1:50 to play.
Gasol split a pair of free throws and Charlotte's Gerald Wallace missed two before Jones provided the dagger with a 3-pointer for a 100-93 bulge with 44 seconds to go. He had missed his first six 3-pointers.
"Winning seven straight is great, but I thought we would come out a little bit better than we did today," Jones said. "But we bounced back and got it done, and that's what it's all about."
Jones scored 10 points on just 3-of-9 shooting. He was one of five players in double figures for the Grizzlies, who shot 46 percent (37-of-80) and held a 47-33 advantage on the boards.
"You can't win when you get outrebounded on the offensive boards (18-10)," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "Our weakness is that we don't rebound."
Wallace scored 25 points, Rush added 21 and Brezec 13 for the Bobcats, who shot 44 percent (34-of-78) and fell to 0-3 all-time vs. the Grizzlies.
Already eliminated from playoff contention, Charlotte (19-52) has lost three in a row and seven of eight.