Grizzlies 135, Timberwolves 110

BY foxsports • January 16, 2010

The Minnesota Timberwolves post-game comments were as minimal as their second-half effort against the Memphis Grizzlies.

``I don't know what you could possibly ask me after that,'' Minnesota center Al Jefferson said following a 135-110 loss to the Grizzlies on Friday night.

Rudy Gay scored 21 points, and Zach Randolph and O.J. Mayo added 20 apiece as the Grizzlies won their seventh straight home game. Mike Conley had 18 points and eight assists, and Sam Young scored 17. Marc Gasol finished with 12 points for Memphis, which has won 10 of 13.

Randolph had 12 rebounds and Gasol 10, helping Memphis to a 45-37 advantage on the boards.

``Our defense was atrocious. I'm embarrassed about how our guys played. There was no energy or focus on the defensive end,'' said Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis, his only comments before storming back into the locker room.

Corey Brewer led the Timberwolves with 22 points, while Jefferson scored 21, all in the first half. Wayne Ellington had 17 points, and Kevin Love finished with 14 points and nine rebounds in Minnesota's fourth straight loss.

Memphis put the game away with a 40-22 third quarter. The Grizzlies outscored Minnesota 69-51 after halftime en route to the season-high in points.

``(Rambis) had some choice words for us,'' Love said of the team's postgame talk. ``It was nothing we wanted to hear, but we knew it was coming.''

While the Timberwolves were miffed, the Grizzlies were delighted with the performance, particularly building a large enough lead that the starters got to rest in the fourth.

``It was real fun,'' Randolph said. ``Young guys got a chance to play and get experience. Rudy caught fire. O.J. caught fire, so it was a fun game.''

The Grizzlies hit their first five attempts from outside the arc, helping to build an early 11-point lead. But Minnesota kept pace to stay close through the bulk of the half.

After the Timberwolves pulled even on Ellington's 20-foot jumper, the teams remained within a basket of each other, the Grizzlies taking a lead, and the Timberwolves matching them.

Jefferson was getting to the basket against Gasol, missing only two of his first 12 shots and scoring 21 points in the half.

Four Grizzlies already had reached double figures at the break, led by Mayo's 12.

``We're becoming a team,'' Conley said of the balanced scoring. ``We're not just one or two guys that score in the starting five. We have a bunch of guys that can go off any night.''

Memphis was able to create a bit of space by outscoring Minnesota 8-2 to close the half for a 66-59 lead at the break. Memphis continued the rally in the third, eventually extending the run to 16-4 spanning halftime.

``We came out not so good in the first half, but in the second half, we came out and got defensive stops,'' Randolph said.

The Timberwolves started to show the effects of their triple-overtime loss at Houston on Wednesday night, and by the time Randolph connected on a 3-pointer from the right corner, Memphis' lead had stretched to 93-73.

``We just didn't come out to play,'' Brewer said. ``After losing in three overtimes the way we lost, and to come out tonight, it was embarrassing. (The Grizzlies) were coming at us, and we were backing down.''

The advantage eventually would reach 25 before the fourth, as Memphis already had a season-high in 3-pointers, connecting on 10 of 15 before the final quarter.

Memphis shot 66 percent through the first three quarters, ending the night at 59 percent, compared to 48 percent for Minnesota. The Memphis running game also contributed to wearing down the Timberwolves.

``We executed unbelievably on the fastbreak,'' Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. ``We had 36 fastbreak points, which is an unbelievable amount of fastbreaks in today's game of basketball.''

Then Minnesota added their own fastbreak to the postgame comments, speaking quickly before clearing out.

``We have to be more mature as a team,'' Love said. ``We just need to figure out our situation out there, and not let that happen again.''

NOTES: Minnesota has given up at least 100 points in the past 10 games. ... With his start, Mayo became the first player to start the first 120 games of his career since Dwight Howard between 2004-06. Howard eventually started his first 149 games. ... The Timberwolves were finishing a four-game road trip, their longest of the season. Meanwhile, Memphis was playing the first of three games in four days, all at home. ... Memphis' 40 points in the third matched the highest quarter for the Grizzlies this season. ... Memphis had a season-high 33 assists. In addition to Conley's eight, Mayo had seven, while Gay and Randolph had five each.

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