Trail Blazers 103, Grizzlies 93

BY foxsports • March 2, 2010

Nate McMillan let his team know at halftime they were not playing as if they were fighting to hold on to a playoff spot.

The Portland Trail Blazers responded by scoring 41 points in the third quarter, equaling their points in all of the first half.

Brandon Roy scored 25 points and Nicolas Batum added 21 as Portland erased a 14-point first-half deficit with the strong third quarter and defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 103-93 on Monday night.

``We didn't play defense,'' Batum said of McMillan's halftime talk, adding the coach was angry. ``Got too many turnovers. He just said for us to wake up.''

LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 13 points, and Andre Miller scored 12 points and handed out 11 assists as the Trail Blazers ended their five-game road trip with four victories. They also solidified their hold on the Western Conference's eighth playoff spot.

Roy said that while the Memphis game was the last on the road trip, he knew when they left Portland it would be important since the Grizzlies were one of the teams fighting to make the playoffs. Everyone in the locker room knew it, too.

``That was the message before the game,'' Roy said of the playoff talk. ``We didn't come out and play like it. At halftime, we said we have to play this team tougher.''

The win was the seventh straight road win for Portland over the Grizzlies. Meanwhile, Memphis extended its current home losing streak to seven.

``Home should be the easiest place to play,'' said forward Zach Randolph, who led Memphis with 22 points.

Rudy Gay finished with 19 points, Marc Gasol added 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Mike Conley scored 13.

Portland overtook Memphis by outscoring the Grizzlies 41-21 in the third, the Trail Blazers' highest points total in a quarter this season. It also was the most surrendered by Memphis in a period this season.

``We didn't come out with the same energy in the second half or defensive intensity,'' Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said.

The Trail Blazers held a 13-point lead early in the fourth, and still led by 11 with 6:43 remaining. But Memphis went on an 11-2 run to pull within 91-89 on Randolph's two free throws with 3:25 left. Later, Randolph's three-point play cut the lead to 93-92.

But Memphis could get no closer.

The game was the first step in a week in which Memphis, entering the night in the 10th spot in the West, could make some strides in the playoff race. In addition to playing the Trail Blazers, the eighth seed, Memphis travels to New Orleans, which is just ahead of it in ninth place.

The seventh-seeded San Antonio Spurs close out the Grizzlies' week.

The first step started off well, but eventually got out of hand in the second half.

``We couldn't get the ball up the court,'' Randolph said. ``They were knocking the ball out of our hands. We folded in the second half.''

Portland dealt with some early ballhandling problems and managed to stay close until Memphis extended it to eight points as the miscues continued, a half-dozen of them in the first period.

Memphis' lead reached 14 before the Grizzlies carried a 53-41 advantage into the dressing room behind 13 from Gay and 12 more from Randolph.

No Trail Blazers player was in double figures at the break.

``We talked about turnovers,'' McMillan said of the Trail Blazers early deficit. ``I thought we were really loose in the first half with the basketball.

``(Memphis) didn't play very well, but we played poorly in the first half. We got some defensive stops and talked about not getting it back in one play, and it slowly chipped away.''

Actually it was a little stronger than chipping. Portland immediately erased Memphis' advantage in the second half as the Trail Blazers hit nine of their first 11 shots. Batum's 3-pointer completed the rally, giving Portland the lead.

That was part of Batum's 12 points in the quarter, while Roy had 15. Portland outscored Memphis 41-21 for an 82-74 lead entering the fourth.

Portland outhustled Memphis in the second half, forcing 16 turnovers. That allowed Portland to lead by as many as 13 early in the fourth period before Memphis started its rally.

``We just came out with a sense of urgency and were being aggressive with our hands,'' Miller said. ``We cut down our turnovers in the second half and forced them into turnovers.''

NOTES: Portland won its four games on the road trip in four different jerseys. When they left Portland, the Trail Blazers carried their retro, white, black and red jerseys. ... Memphis has not won a home game since Feb. 1, defeating the Lakers 95-93. ... The Trail Blazers have not lost at game at FedExForum since Dec. 21, 2005. ... Memphis G Jamaal Tinsley missed his third game with a sore left hamstring. Center Steven Hunter also sat out with a sore left knee. Hunter has not played in 10 straight games. ... One of Memphis' first-half turnovers may have had something to do with translation. Hamed Haddadi, the Grizzlies' reserve center and the first player from Iran, took the ball out on the baseline after a Portland turnover. With the Trail Blazers pressing, Haddadi tried to create some space, running the baseline. The traveling call was immediate, giving the ball back to Portland.

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