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Hawks and Grizzlies Look to End Skids
Posted Dec 15 2006 4:23PM
The Atlanta Hawks and the Memphis Grizzlies are sharing the same type of misery.
The two struggling teams each will look to avoid losing a fifth straight game when they play at Memphis on Friday.
The Grizzlies (5-17) will try to snap a three-game losing a streak at home. Memphis has the worst overall record in the Western Conference, as well as a conference-worst 3-6 home mark.
However, Memphis could be in good shape to snap its skid. It it looking to beat Atlanta for the seventh straight time overall, and the fifth straight time at home.
The Grizzlies also might get a huge boost if All-Star Pau Gasol is ready to return to the lineup for the first time this season after breaking his foot at the FIBA World Championships in September.
Gasol began practicing this week and will be monitored on a daily basis to determine when he is ready to play. The 7-footer, who was drafted with the third overall pick by Atlanta in 2001 then traded to Memphis in a five-player deal shortly thereafter, has averaged 18.5 points and 8.4 rebounds through five seasons with the Grizzlies.
``We're going day-by-day,'' Memphis coach Mike Fratello told the team's official Web site. ``I was really happy with what his conditioning looked like.''
Without Gasol, Memphis is among the worst offensive teams in the NBA at 92.5 points per game. The Grizzlies had their second-lowest scoring night of the season Wednesday in an 85-79 home loss to Portland.
Memphis trailed by as many as 21 points, then rallied to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, but couldn't hold on as Portland scored the final eight points of the game.
``Our effort picked up towards the end,'' Fratello said. ``I'll take that kind of effort every night, but we've got to straighten things out.''
Mike Miller, who is averaging 13.9 points per game, scored 20 on Wednesday to surpass the 6,000-point mark for his seven-year career.
The Grizzlies won't win many games with leading scorer Hakim Warrick scoring three points as he did Wednesday. Averaging 15.2 points this season, Warrick has struggled recently, scoring 21 total points in his last three games.
The Hawks (8-13) have struggled after going 4-1 to open the season, particularly on the road, where they have dropped three straight and are 4-8 overall.
Joe Johnson, who averages a team-leading 28.7 points per game, remains day-to-day after missing the last three games with a strained right calf.
Averaging 95.2 points as a team this season, Atlanta is averaging just 87.0 without Johnson.
Marvin Williams, the second overall pick in last June's draft who missed the first 17 games with a broken left hand, scored a career-high 23 points and pulled down seven rebounds Wednesday in Atlanta's 94-82 loss at New York.
The Grizzlies beat Atlanta 98-87 on April 2 in the teams' last meeting, which also took place in Memphis.
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