Grizzlies vs. Bucks preview - 2/1/14
By Taylor Bechtold
Promotion: Grizz Girls poster to first 5k fans presented by Gold Strike and Mercury Printing
Halftime: Grizz Girls Reunion performance
Tune In: SportSouth, 92.9FM/680AM ESPN Radio
Tipoff: 7pm CDT
The surging Memphis Grizzlies are playing at a high level since returning to their dominant ways on the defensive end.
Though they could be without leading scorer Mike Conley, Memphis has a good chance to continue that trend against the lowest-scoring team in the NBA.
The Grizzlies will try for their season-best sixth straight victory while handing the Milwaukee Bucks their ninth consecutive road defeat Saturday night.
Conley is questionable after injuring his right ankle with 6:37 remaining in a 94-90 victory at Minnesota on Friday. The starting point guard, averaging 18.0 points, ended up with 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting after scoring a combined 46 in his last two outings.
"I can put weight on it now," Conley said. "(Saturday) is looking iffy, but hopefully after some treatment tonight and the next day we will go from there."
Memphis (25-20) dropped a pair of contests in December with Conley out because of a left thigh contusion. If he's unable to play, the team may have to rely even more on its elite play on the defensive end with 2013 Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol back in the lineup.
Since Jan. 10, the Grizzlies are allowing an NBA-best 88.8 points per game - 6.0 fewer than Chicago, which is second-best - and a league-low 41.7 field-goal percentage. They've won 10 of 11 over that span, and haven't allowed an opponent to score more than 90 during their current five-game winning streak.
That doesn't bode well for the league-worst Bucks (8-38), who are averaging an NBA-low 91.9 points and are coming off a 113-102 loss at Orlando on Friday.
Even though the Bucks put up a 38-point fourth quarter, it wasn't nearly enough as they suffered their fifth straight loss and 14th in 15 games. Caron Butler led seven players in double figures with 20 points, hitting 4 of 6 from 3-point range.
Milwaukee played without John Henson due to a sprained right wrist while former Memphis guard O.J. Mayo missed his third consecutive game with an illness.
"It was frustrating, but you have to keep playing," said Khris Middleton, who had 10 points. "Sometimes you put yourself in a position to win and sometimes you can't."
Milwaukee scored 10 in the first quarter and shot 37.8 percent overall in an 82-77 home loss to Memphis on Jan. 15.
Brandon Knight, averaging a team-high 15.9 points, provided most the Bucks' offense in that meeting with 27 points while hitting 5 of 8 from 3-point range. He'll try to bounce back after finishing with 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting in Friday's loss.
Zach Randolph struggled with just six points on 2-of-10 shooting in Milwaukee, but he's looking to build on a 26-point, 12-rebound effort in Friday's win. He came up big with six points during a 9-2 run that turned a one-point deficit into a 91-85 lead with 59.6 seconds to play.
"It feels good, we are still getting to where we want to get," Randolph said.
While Memphis hasn't reached 100 points in its last nine games, Milwaukee has given up 116.3 per game over its last four.
The Bucks, 4-20 away from home, have been outscored by an average of 15.9 points during their road losing streak. They've totaled 166 points on 35.8 percent shooting while dropping their last two visits to Memphis.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited