Grizzlies vs. Cavaliers preview - 3/1/14
By ALAN FERGUSON
With Kyrie Irving leading the way, the Cleveland Cavaliers have earned a pair of victories despite a rash of injuries.
The Cavaliers will try to extend that run Saturday night by denying the Memphis Grizzlies a season-high fifth straight home win.
Anderson Varejao has experienced the longest absence among Cleveland's trio of injured contributors, missing nine games due to a sore back. Dion Waiters (knee) has sat out the last six and C.J. Miles (ankle) has missed the past five for the Cavaliers (24-36).
All three players participated in Friday morning's shootaround, but they all remain out indefinitely.
Top overall draft pick Anthony Bennett was also on the shelf for Friday's game against Utah because of a sore right knee, but Irving picked up his team in a major way in a 99-79 rout.
The All-Star Game MVP recorded his first career triple-double with 21 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. He had 31 points in a 114-104 victory at Oklahoma City on Wednesday that snapped a three-game skid.
Those wins have helped Cleveland pull within 3 1/2 games of eighth-place Atlanta in the Eastern Conference.
"I'm excited for Kyrie (Irving). For him to go out there and get his first triple-double, that was very fun to watch. As his coach, it was fun to be a part of," Mike Brown said. "I'm fired up for him and for the organization and city. It was big for a young guy to step up and come up with his first triple-double in a game that we needed, especially in a win."
Cleveland produced a season-high, six-game win streak before that slide and has won four of five on the road. The Grizzlies (32-25) have dropped two of three after winning 16 of 20, but both of those losses have come away from home, including a 113-107 defeat to Oklahoma City on Friday.
Memphis cut a 16-point deficit entering the fourth quarter down to three with 2:29 remaining, but missed three of its final five shots. Mike Miller, who had a season high-tying 19 points, also missed a technical free throw with 2:01 left.
"We can't afford to dig ourselves a hole like we did," guard Mike Conley said.
The loss and Phoenix's win over New Orleans pushed Memphis 1 1/2 games behind the Suns for eighth in the West.
Memphis has won 10 of 12 at FedExForum, beginning with a four-game run Jan. 10-17.
The Grizzlies have won the last four home games against the Cavaliers but fell 91-83 in overtime in Cleveland in this season's other matchup. Irving scored a team-best 28 points, including the final four points in regulation and the last four in the extra period, to help his team end a four-game skid in the series.
Irving is averaging 25.7 points and shooting 55.6 percent, his best showing against any opponent, in three career games versus Memphis.
Conley missed the most recent matchup against the Cavaliers because of an injured right ankle. He had 17 points, 11 assists and five steals in a 103-92 win in Cleveland on March 8, 2013, but has experienced some trouble getting back in the groove in his five games since returning from injury.
The Grizzlies leading scorer is averaging 12.0 points, 6.0 fewer than in his first 43 games this season, and shooting 30.6 percent (19 of 62).
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