Second Half Surge Propels Grizzlies Past Wolves, 99-86
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For most of Saturday night’s contest, the Wolves were in control.
But after leading for all of the second quarter and most of the third, Minnesota gave up a 16-2 run at the beginning of the fourth and allowed a 99-86 loss to slip away to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Wolves vs. Grizzlies
“He was aggressive tonight,” Grizzlies guard Mike Conley said. “He was getting to the free-throw line, he was getting his shots from the outside, when he’s hitting shots he’s very tough to guard especially with his playmaking ability … We came in and were able to have enough energy to finish the game.”
The sudden monster run by Memphis at the beginning of the fourth quarter put the Wolves in a hole that they never got out of. They were outscored 34-19 in the final quarter and shot just 37.5 percent to Memphis’ 59.1.
“They were making some tough ones,” Greg Stiemsma said. “We turned it over a couple times, and it kind of took us out of our rhythm in the second half. They took over the game.”
Until that final quarter, Minnesota seemed to carry over some of the momentum they had gained with Friday’s win over Oklahoma City. The Wolves took a five-point lead into halftime after Rubio made a lay-up to beat the buzzer.
One big factor for the Wolves was the absence of center Nikola Pekovic who was ruled out before tip-off with a sprained ankle. Without him, Greg Stiemsma was forced to play a career-high 40 minutes and battle against the stout Marc Gasol down low. Gasol came out with 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
“Right now [Gasol] is one of the top three centers in the league,” Rubio said. “He’s doing a great job. Not only that but he knows how to play, and like I say he’s top in this league and he can assist like a point guard, shoot a mid-range pretty well, and on defense it’s tough because he’s so big.”
Derrick Williams supplemented Rubio with 19 points scoring, and Stiemsma pitched in 12. No other Wolves recorded double-digit points.
Gasol led the Grizzlies statistically; Mike Conley had 19 points along with Zach Randolph’s 14 points and seven rebounds. Reserve Darrell Arthur had 15 points.
“Tonight we had to rely heavily on our second unit,” Conley said. “I thought we just worked hard.”
Leader of the Pack: Ricky Rubio
It’s not every game you see Rubio lead all scorers in points; he did it on Saturday with 23 points in addition to 10 rebounds and nine assists. The point total is a career-high, and he was just one assist away from his second triple-double of his career.
“He got to the free throw line a lot,” Memphis’ Quincy Pondexter said. “He’s a great player, he’s come into his own. I’m surprised to see how well he has developed, especially coming off an injury. He’s a really great player.”
Play of the Game
With only 3.7 seconds left in the first half, Ricky Rubio received the inbounds pass and weaved his way through the Memphis defense. He streaked towards the hoop and barely converted a left-handed layup barely as time expired for the half, giving the Wolves a 50-45 lead going into the break.
“We had too many turnovers, and when you turn the ball over against this team, they play aggressive... so we have to be ready. We were doing a good job in the first half, but I don’t know [if it was] because we were tired or not, but in the second half we didn’t play good at all.”—Wolves guard Ricky Rubio
The Wolves will host the Celtics on Monday before embarking on a single-game road trip to Milwaukee Wednesday. After that, they return home for a string of games against Toronto and Detroit.