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Grizzlies defeat Caja Laboral

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The Memphis Grizzlies kept their perfect preseason record in place, but it
wouldn’t come without a little drama, as they were able to come back from
a first half deficit and hold on down the stretch to outlast the Euroleague’s
Caja Laboral 110-105.

The game was part of the Euroleague Baskeball Amercian Tour 2010, and while
the Grizzlies came in as heavy favorites, Caja Laboral proved that the international
game is more than catching up to the American style of play.

The Grizzlies used a pair of big runs to hold Caja Laboral at bay, including
a 28-7 run that bridged the fourth quarter that was keyed by the Grizzlies starting
unit. After returning after a lackluster opening quarter showing, the starters
returned with polished play in the waning moments of the second quarter, kept
the momentum rolling into the third, and built up at 13 points advantage that
would eventually evaporate at the start of the fourth.

The Grizzlies second big run that should have sealed the game came over the
first six minutes of the fourth when they used a 21-8 run to take a 13 point
edge with only 5:27 left in the fourth.
Caja Laboral would not go away, however, as they threatened in the final minute,
closing the lead to 109-105 with 57 seconds left, but miscues at the line prevented
them from coming any closer.

The visiting team was able to stay in the contest throughout because of their
commitment to the three-point line, where they shot 16-of-38. True to form,
the Grizzlies dominated the inside, outrebounding Caja Laboral 46-33 and tallying
62 points in the paint compared to 34.

The team practiced international relations before the game, exchanging gifts
with Caja Laboral’s team to commemorate the Grizzlies first contest against
an international opponent on American soil.

Looking to avoid being the second NBA team in a week to lose to a team from
the Euroleague (the Lakers lost to Barcelona a week ago), the biggest question
coming into the contest was whether the Grizzlies would be able to invoke their
style of play or if they would allow Caja Laboral to come into FedExForum and
exhibit their own brand of basketball.

In the early going Caja Laboral showed the Grizzlies why they are a three-time
Spanish League champion, hitting 4-of-10 from behind the arc in the first quarter,
while the Grizzlies sloppy play resulted in nine turnovers and a 27-19 Caja
Laboral lead after one.

With NBA legend Larry Bird in the crowd scouting Caja Laboral’s Stanko
Barac, whose rights are owned by the Pacers, the Grizzlies second unit narrowed
the margin to 34-30 thanks to the aggressive play of Sam Young and Xavier Henry.
The Grizzlies did a better job of controlling their turnovers in the second
quarter, but had trouble slowing down Daniel Logan, whose 14 first half points
helped Caja Laboral keep the home squad at bay for much of the quarter.
When the Grizzlies starters came back into the contest with 4:31 remaining in
the half they trailed by five, but returned with a better collective focus than
they had to start the game and used the rest of the half to turn a deficit into
their advantage when O.J. Mayo connected on a layup with 32 seconds remaining
in the half.

The Grizzlies continued their momentum that they created at the end of the
half and bridged the second and third quarters with an 11-0 run to start the
second half. The Grizzlies appeared to be in complete control of the contest
when they took a 63-50 lead on a Mike Conley jumper with 7:20 remainign , but
Caja Laboral was not about to go away so quickly.

Caja Laboral heated up from behind the arc again in the third quarter, outscoring
the Grizzlies 27-13 over a seven minute stretch in the third to take back the
lead on a Marcelinho Huertas fastbreak layup with 15 seconds to go in the third.

Looking to shake up lineups that had been strict line changes through the first
three quarters, Grizzlies Head Coach Lionel Hollins started the fourth quarter
with a lineup headlined by starter Marc Gasol and included Acie Law, Young,
Henry and Darrell Arthur.

The change worked as the Grizzlies re-established themselves on the inside
as Gasol dominated the contest from inside until Conley returned to help the
cause. Caja Laboral’s 9-1 run to end the game made things interesting
down the stretch, but they were unable to come away with a basket in the final
minute, allowing the Grizzlies to finish with the win.
Conley led all scorers with 27 points, with Young chipping in 21 points off
the bench. The Grizzlies held Logan in check in the second half, as he only
finished with 14 points, while Mirza Teletovic ended up leading Caja Laboral
with 24 points.

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