Grizzlies vs. Sixers preview
By ALAN FERGUSON
The Memphis Grizzlies gave a boost to their playoff pursuit by topping one of the NBA's best teams last time out.
Now they'll look to take care of one of the worst and match the longest single-season home winning streak in franchise history Friday night when they face the Philadelphia 76ers.
Memphis (46-32) had dropped four of six and fallen one game behind the final playoff spot in the Western Conference before a 107-102 win over Miami on Wednesday.
It was the Grizzlies' 12th consecutive home victory, one shy of the franchise record set last season. Maybe more importantly, it came against the defending champions, one game after Memphis lost by 20 to league-best San Antonio.
"The headline of the day is the Grizzlies got the win, much needed win," guard Tony Allen said. "We want to continue to polish what we've got going, trying to race into the playoffs."
Mike Conley scored 26 points, Zach Randolph added 25 and Marc Gasol had 20. Randolph and Gasol registered double-doubles while helping the Grizzlies to a 41-27 rebounding advantage and a 60-30 edge on points in the paint.
In four games this month, Conley, Randolph and Gasol have each scored at least 20 in Memphis' two wins whereas only one was in double figures in the team's two losses.
When coach David Joerger was asked how to keep those three leading offensively going forward, he had a simple response.
"It's just gotta be," Joerger said. "Those are the guys that everybody has to be playing off of. So they have to be No. 1, 2 and 3, or 1a, 1b and 1c."
The Grizzlies, however, remained one game out of the No. 8 seed because Phoenix won in New Orleans. They continue to chase the Suns and Dallas for one of the conference's final two playoff spots and will face those teams in the final two games of the regular season.
First, they'll take on two teams that have been eliminated, Philadelphia (17-61) and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Since ending their NBA record-tying, 26-game losing streak by beating Detroit, the 76ers have gone 1-4 while giving up an average of 111.6 points.
Those defensive woes helped negate a strong showing at the other end of the court Wednesday in Toronto. Philadelphia shot 51.8 percent in a 125-114 loss, and Henry Sims had 22 points, two shy of matching his career high from five days earlier.
The 76ers trailed nearly the entire way in their 14th defeat in 15 road games.
Michael Carter-Williams had 19 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. The Rookie of the Year contender is averaging 19.0 points on 52.5 percent shooting in his last six games, compared to 40.1 percent for the season.
"I'm trying to learn throughout the season," Carter-Williams told the team's website. "I think I have improved and so has the team. I've tried to be more of a leader and be more assertive – play calling and being a leader."
Carter-Williams had a game-high 23 points in the only matchup with Memphis this season but committed six turnovers in a 103-77 loss March 15.
The Grizzlies outshot the 76ers 54.3 percent to 37.3 for their fifth win in the past six meetings. All 13 Memphis players who saw the court scored, led by Conley's 19.
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