Grizzlies, Timberwolves meet for third time in young season
This early in the NBA season, it's hard for teams to get familiar with each other. The Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies are the exception.
The two teams play in Memphis for the second time this season on Saturday night. It will be third regular-season meeting after Minnesota and Memphis also met in the preseason. The two teams have split the first two regular-season games, each winning on its home court.
The Grizzlies (7-5) will be happy to head home after finishing a four-game road trip in Dallas on Friday night. Memphis finished the road trip with three straight wins after beating the Mavericks 80-64.
“I was happy to see our defense,” Grizzlies coach David Fizdale said. “I always tell the guys 'our defense will travel.' Your offense don't always get on the plane with you. But our defense was really stingy tonight.”
Parsons return to Dallas was one of Friday's storylines. The familiarity between teams played a part in the first half, in which neither team scored more than 19 points in the first two quarters.
“We stopped being friendly,” Fizdale said. “If you watched the first quarter, everybody was having conversations with the other team like they were all pals. And we don't have the luxury to be buddies.
I think we took it light, like thinking they didn't have their players, but this (Mavericks) is an NBA team with NBA players. We didn't show them respect by playing like that. So I got after them pretty good and they came out in the second half and got after it.”
Familiarity with Minnesota could breed contempt.
The Timberwolves (4-7) opened the season at Memphis and led by as many as 17 early before losing 102-98 as the Grizzlies charged back. Minnesota won the second game handily 116-80 at home as Memphis rested point guard Mike Conley and center Marc Gasol.
Fizdale didn't play any of his starters more than 32 minutes on Friday with the back-to-back scheduled against the Timberwolves.
Memphis also got guard Tony Allen back after he missed four games with a strained right groin. Allen scored 11 points off the bench in Friday's win.
“We'll have to wait and see how I feel tomorrow,” Allen said. “I thought I did a good job of icing and stretching. I'll get some rest tonight and see how I feel tomorrow.”
Minnesota has won three of its past five games, including Thursday's 110-86 dismantling of Philadelphia in which three players posted double-doubles. Andrew Wiggins scored 35 points and tied a career high with 10 rebounds. Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 points and 10 rebounds, and Gorgui Dieng added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“I think we character this game as a point in the road that we have to look back and we have to understand and grow from this,” Towns said. “We held them to, I think, 33 points in the first half. That's very good for us to do. We've got to do a better job from here on out, especially in the third quarter.”
The Timberwolves started Friday as the sixth-highest scoring team in the league. They were also the highest-scoring team in the first quarter. But they've been the worst in the third quarter, blowing several leads along the way.
Wiggins has been the biggest factor in Minnesota's offensive surge. He has scored more than 30 points in three of his past six games. During that stretch, Wiggins has scored 33 points, grabbed 5.3 rebounds and passed out 3.5 assists per game. He shot 50.7 percent from the field while taking 22.67 shots per game.
“There were times last year where I just drifted to the corner and stayed there,” Wiggins said. “I think I'm just being more active. My awareness is higher. I'm just doing more.”