Grizzlies at Bobcats tonight
By ALAN FERGUSON
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The Memphis Grizzlies are back on a roll after a lull just before the All-Star break but will visit a team that's seeking its longest win streak in three seasons and longest at home in the last four.
With help from a red-hot Al Jefferson, the Charlotte Bobcats will try to earn what's been an elusive fourth consecutive victory and their fourth in a row at home Saturday night while ending the Grizzlies' four-game run.
Memphis (31-23) has produced its win streak after losing three of four just before the break. The Grizzlies have earned two of those victories since the hiatus.
They topped the Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Clippers 102-96 on Friday to stay within one game of Dallas for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Memphis outshot Los Angeles 48.3 percent to 38.8, and Zach Randolph led the way with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Marc Gasol also had his third double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds. The Grizzlies also benefited from the return of Tony Allen, one of their best defenders.
The veteran guard had missed 21 games because of a sprained left wrist.
"With TA back in the lineup, it's great," Randolph said. "He's a leader on this team, and he gets guys going with his energy. What else can I say? We're happy to have him back."
With Allen's help, the Grizzlies will try to post their third win streak of five games or longer since Jan. 9 when they face the Bobcats for the first time this season. Memphis won a season-high six straight before its 1-3 stretch.
The Grizzlies have won three straight over the Bobcats and two in a row in Charlotte. However, they will face a team that's seeking its first four-game win streak since March 25-30, 2011, and its first such run at home since March 31-April 10, 2010.
Sitting seventh in the East and 2 1/2 games ahead of ninth-place Detroit, the Bobcats (26-30) are contending for the second playoff berth in franchise history after going a combined 28-120 the past two seasons.
They shot better than 51.0 percent and scored at least 108 points in each of the first two games of their current win streak before having to overcome a subpar performance Friday against New Orleans.
Charlotte shot 38.8 percent, its lowest effort since 38.2 percent in a road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 1, but came away with a 90-87 victory thanks in part to another stellar effort from Jefferson. The center had 33 points and has scored at least 26 in nine of the last 11 games.
Jefferson has also tallied 20 or more points in 17 of the past 19 contests.
"It's unbelievable," coach Steve Clifford said. "I can't imagine many guys in the league are playing better than him right now."
Jefferson has scored 20 or more points in five of his last seven games against Memphis. He had 22 points and 16 rebounds in an 86-70 road loss to the Grizzlies on April 17 while with Utah.
The Grizzlies' Mike Conley has scored a combined 60 points and shot 62.9 percent (22 of 35) in the three straight wins against Charlotte.
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