National Basketball Association
Grizzlies-Bucks Preview
National Basketball Association

Grizzlies-Bucks Preview

Updated Mar. 5, 2020 12:22 a.m. ET

For the Memphis Grizzlies, at least the latest loss was more competitive.

Ravaged by injuries during a three-game losing streak, the Grizzlies remain seeking a silver lining as they limp into Thursday night's matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Down to 10 healthy players - five of whom were signed either off the street or from the D-League in the past month - the Grizzlies are mired in their longest winless stretch since a four-game skid in November. They were outmanned once more in Wednesday's 114-108 home loss to Minnesota, though the result still bettered Monday's 130-81 thrashing by Houston that matched the second-worst defeat in franchise history.

The Grizzlies' patchwork lineup did improve on a 29.7 percent performance from the field against the Rockets but remained porous defensively, as the Timberwolves shot 66.7 percent during a 42-point opening quarter and 56.3 percent overall.


Memphis (39-29) still remains four games ahead of sixth-place Portland in the Western Conference as it awaits the returns of Mike Conley (Achilles), Zach Randolph (knee), Brandan Wright (knee), Vince Carter (calf) and Chris Andersen (shoulder). P.J. Hairston was added to that extensive list after straining his groin in Monday's blowout.

There still were some positives that came out of Wednesday's loss. Lance Stephenson did return after missing the Houston game with a wrist injury and totaled 24 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, while JaMychal Green had 18 points and 10 rebounds to help Memphis record a 70-40 advantage in the paint.

"Really, really proud of our guys," coach Dave Joerger said. "We got 70 points in the paint. I thought we fought, I thought we gave ourselves a chance. We just came out too slow and spotted them too many points."

Stephenson is averaging 25.0 points and 8.7 rebounds over his last three games and Green has posted four double-doubles while starting the past six.

Memphis has averaged just 86.7 points and shot 33.9 percent in losing three straight on the road, where it plays four of its next five starting with a Bucks team that won three straight prior to Tuesday's 107-89 loss to Atlantic Division-leading Toronto.

Milwaukee (29-39) continues to receive big production from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who just missed a second consecutive triple-double with 18 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists against the Raptors. The 21-year-old is averaging 20.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists over a 12-game stretch in which he's notched a club-record four triple-doubles.

Two of Antetokounmpo's teammate have been contributing of late as well. Khris Middleton is averaging 21.9 points and shooting 44.4 percent on 3s over a 10-game run and Jabari Parker is averaging 21.4 over his last nine.

The offense did struggle against Toronto, which held the Bucks to 2-of-13 from beyond the arc and outscored Milwaukee 29-17 in the third quarter to pull away.

''The ball didn't move,'' coach Jason Kidd said of the third-quarter problems. ''I think we got a little frustrated. We have to do a better job shooting outside the paint."

Milwaukee missed 15 of 16 3-point tries in a 103-83 loss at Memphis on Jan. 28, the Grizzlies' ninth win in 10 meetings. The Bucks did stop a four-game home skid in the series with a 93-92 victory in Memphis' last visit on Nov. 8, 2014.


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