CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Mike Conley had 18 points and seven assists as the Memphis Grizzlies beat Charlotte 85-80 on Friday night to extend the Bobcats’ franchise-worst losing streak to 19 games.
The Grizzlies overcame an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter and then held on to get an important victory in terms of playoff seeding in the Western Conference.
On the 25-year anniversary of Michael Jordan scoring an NBA playoff-record 63 points against the Boston Celtics, the team Jordan now owns took a step closer toward cementing a dubious spot in league history.
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If the Bobcats (7-55) lose their final four games they will finish with the worst winning percentage in league history.
Gerald Henderson tied a career high with 32 points for the Bobcats.
Henderson’s 3-pointer with 20 seconds left got the Bobcats within three points with 20 seconds left, but he turned the ball over in the lane on the next possession and Conley hit two free throws the seal the victory for the Grizzlies.
Zach Randolph added 14 points for Memphis.
The Bobcats took a 17-4 lead behind 11 points from Henderson, leaving fans to wonder if the losing streak might finally come to an end.
But the lead was short-lived as Marc Gasol scored six straight points and the Grizzlies closed the gap to 21-17 at the end of the first quarter. The Bobcats would withstand a Grizzlies run and take a 39-37 halftime lead.
The Bobcats, who have struggled all season in the third quarter, came out of the locker room playing with enthusiasm and opened a 10-point lead behind some strong play by Derrick Brown. Brown scored eight points in the third quarter, scoring on consecutive trips down the court to give the Bobcats a 54-49 lead with 3:36 left in the quarter. He put in a reverse layup to open a double-digit lead a few minutes later.
Charlotte took a 65-57 lead into the fourth quarter, but it didn’t take long for the Grizzlies to erase that deficit.
Conley began driving to the hole and soon the game was tied at 71.
That’s when ex-Bobcat Dante Cunningham came to life, scoring uncontested fastbreak dunks on consecutive possessions. Marreese Speights added another dunk off a feed from Conley to stretch the lead to six with 5:25 left. Conley had seven assists.
The Bobcats cut the lead to three on two occasions but couldn’t get any closer.
NOTES: Memphis’ Rudy Gay and Charlotte’s Bismack Biyombo had to be separated after coming face-to-face in the game’s final 45 seconds. … The teams combined for 40 turnovers.