Cavs, Grizzlies meet heading in opposite direction
CLEVELAND — The month of November turned out pretty good for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who finished it with the East’s top player and a 10-game winning streak.
The Memphis Grizzlies, meanwhile, should be happy December is here. They ended last month on a nine-game losing streak that stretched to 10 with a 95-79 loss Friday to San Antonio, and fired their coach Monday.
The Cavs, the NBA’s hottest team, host the league’s coldest in the Grizzlies at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
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“If you win 10-plus games in any sport, major sport, that’s very, very good,” LeBron James said. “But we don’t want to be (complacent), and Saturday it’s another struggling team, and we understand that. But we understand we’re going to get their best in Memphis, so we look forward to the challenge.”
James was named the Eastern Conference player of the month for October and November. It’s James’ 35th player of the month honor, the most in NBA history. He’s third in the league in scoring (28.0 ppg) and fourth in assists (8.5 apg).
The Cavs have scored at least 100 points in all 10 games of this winning streak. They hadn’t done that since April 4-21, 1993, and the team record for consecutive wins with at least 100 points is 11 from the 1988-89 season.
The Grizzlies are 0-2 under interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who was promoted from his job as an assistant when Memphis fired coach David Fizdale.
Fizdale’s firing actually caught the attention of the Cavs, as both James and Dwyane Wade played under Fizdale when he was an assistant in Miami, and Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue did the same when Fizdale was an assistant in Atlanta.
“Memphis over the last couple years has been a very, very good team,” James said. “(Dave) Joerger was coaching them, now with Fiz, but (Mike) Conley’s been in an out a lot. We all know he’s the head of the snake down there. He gets hurt, things just always kind of doesn’t look well and, I don’t know the details of it because I’m not around, but I know the type of coach Fiz is.
“I know how players relate to him and I know what he stands for. He don’t stand for no, maybe that’s what it was. Because I know he ain’t gonna kiss nobody’s (butt). I know that.”
Fizdale’s firing came a day after he benched star center Marc Gasol in the fourth quarter of a loss to Brooklyn.
Gasol, 33, is averaging 18.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game this season.
Memphis point guard Mike Conley Jr. missed his eighth game because of a sore left Achilles on Friday. The Grizzlies are 0-8 in those games, and Conley said he expects to miss another three weeks.
“It’s tough,” he said. “Anything that has to do with your heel takes longer to heal. I just have to give it time.”
The Cavs announced Friday that guard Iman Shumpert underwent surgery to repair a torn left meniscus and is expected to miss two months.