Having started this season with contrasting performances, the Memphis Grizzlies will try to stay consistent Saturday night while carrying some momentum into their longest road trip.
A visit from the scuffling Brooklyn Nets could aid the Grizzlies’ attempt to accomplish those goals.
A winner of 50-plus games the past three seasons, Memphis hardly looked like it in Wednesday’s opener against reigning Eastern Conference champion Cleveland. The Grizzlies absorbed a 106-76 thumping on their own floor but bounced back with a 112-103 win at Indiana the next night.
"(Wednesday) night, we got our butt whipped, so guys came out with a lot more energy in this game," forward Zach Randolph said. "We stuck with it. We stuck to our defense. Guys hit shots. It was a good team win."
Memphis (1-1) outscored the Pacers 18-7 in the final four minutes to exit with its first victory, and Marc Gasol registered eight of his team-leading 20 points in that closing stretch. Jeff Green contributed a pair of 3-pointers.
"We know in order to compete in the Western Conference, we can’t come out the way we did (Wednesday) night," Green said. "Tonight was a prime example of what we need to do."
After their brief return home, the Grizzlies will head out on a five-game Western trip that begins Monday against defending NBA champion Golden State.
Memphis will try to go into that trek on a positive note by earning its third consecutive victory over the Nets (0-2). The Grizzlies won 95-86 at home in the final of last season’s two meetings Feb. 10.
Brooklyn heads into this game after a miserable second-half showing in a 102-75 drubbing in San Antonio on Friday. The Nets led 47-42 at the break then scored just 28 points over the final 24 minutes.
They had 16 points in the third quarter Wednesday en route to a 115-100 loss to visiting Chicago.
"Hopefully, we can bounce back (Saturday)," said guard Jarrett Jack, who made his season debut in the loss to the Spurs after dealing with an ailing hamstring. "We’re playing a good Memphis team in its building, which is going to be tough as well. It’s opportunity to get this first win out of the way."
The Nets’ start is their worst since they set an NBA record by dropping their first 18 games in 2009-10, but Brook Lopez has performed admirably in the first two games. The center is averaging 21.5 points on 57.1 percent shooting, and had 17 while making six of 11 attempts Friday.
Lopez wasn’t allowed to shine while facing Memphis and Gasol last season, averaging 11.5 points while shooting 43.5 percent. That was his third-lowest scoring mark against any opponent.
Randolph, meanwhile, averaged 19.5 points and 11.0 rebounds while shooting 60.7 percent in last season’s two games against Brooklyn. He’s off to a slow start this season with an 11.5-point average on 36.4 percent shooting.
Randolph missed eight of 11 shots and finished with 11 points in Thursday’s victory.