The Memphis Grizzlies have a chance to go out a winner in what could be their losingest season since relocating from Vancouver when they host the Detroit Pistons in their home finale on Sunday afternoon in Memphis, Tenn.
The Grizzlies (21-58) are dueling the Phoenix Suns (20-60) for the distinction of having the worst record in the NBA this season. Any combination of two Memphis wins and Phoenix losses would put the Suns in the driver’s seat at the NBA Draft Lottery in May.
One of the most disappointing aspect of the season, veteran center Marc Gasol said recently, is the club’s 15-25 home record.
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The Memphis fans deserve better, he said.
“For a long time, we made a commitment as a team, as a franchise, to not only be a part of the community, but THE community,” Gasol said. “I think that’s why we have the support that we have from our fans, because they don’t see us as somebody that supports the community. They see us a part of them. They see us trying to help in every way possible.
“There’s a reason why we’ve been so successful. Even though we don’t have as many of the older guys that we had here in the past, we try to teach and show, by example, the younger players how important it is for their success, on the court, to support all the people in Memphis. Without the support of the people of Memphis, these things are not going to happen.”
The Grizzlies have lost their last four games, including 94-93 at home to Sacramento on Friday night in a game attended by 16,527 people. Memphis has filled its building to 88 percent capacity this season despite the constant losing.
The Grizzlies need two wins in their last three games to avoid matching their 60-loss total of last season. That’s the most losses in the club’s Memphis history.
They finish with road games at Minnesota and Oklahoma City.
Beating the Pistons, even though Detroit has been eliminated from the Eastern Conference playoff race, will not be easy.
Detroit is finishing strong, having won eight of its last 10 games despite losing star forward Blake Griffin to a bruised right ankle halfway through the stretch.
Anthony Tolliver has filled in admirably for Griffin, scoring in double figures in his last five starts, hitting 18 of his 29 3-point attempts.
He has reached double figures in seven straight games, averaging 17.4 points, after recording only two such games in his previous 15 contests, going scoreless three times.
Tolliver recently scolded those who doubted him.
“I’ve always been an ultimate team guy, right?” he said. “Whenever a coach asks me to fill a role, I fill it. That’s what I do.”
The Pistons and Grizzlies met once earlier this season, with Detroit pulling out a 104-102 home win in February. Gasol had 19 points and 14 rebounds in the loss.