Court Vision: Without Conley, Grizzlies down Portland, win fourth straight
MEMPHIS, Tenn — With starting point guard Mike Conley out resting an ankle on Saturday, backup Beno Udrih scored 17 points and the Grizzlies beat the West’s current No. 2 seed 102-98. Zach Randolph scored a team-high 20 points and added 15 rebounds as the Grizzlies improved to 29-11. Portland fell to 30-11.
1. SO FAR, SO GOOD FOR NEW GRIZZLY GREEN
New Grizzly Jeff Green said it had been a while since he got an ovation like he got Saturday in Memphis.
In his third game, but FedExForum debut, Green scored 17 points off the bench and had five rebounds. A lot of his pre-arrival talk revolved around his role. So far, he is averaging 16 points and his role is, well, whatever.
"They want me to be myself, so whatever the coach wants me to do, that’s what I’m going to do," Green said. "They’ve been great before I got here, so I don’t want to ruin what they have, I want to add to it."
He drove in and scored at the rim in the second quarter and also hit 3 of 5 3-pointers.
A once 20-point lead down to seven in the fourth quarter, Green grabbed an offensive board off of Marc Gasol’s miss and made two free throws for a nine-point lead.
His biggest make came with 1:51 to play. Off his own miss, Green bullied his way to the rebound and banked in a 95-90 lead.
"He has me out there in late-game situations, so I think he has confidence in me," Green said of his new coach, Dave Joerger. "But it’s still a learning process. Technically, it hasn’t been a week yet."
In less than a week, he has been a difference-maker. That’s his role.
2. UDRIH STEPS IN AND STEPS UP
With Conley in jeans, Udrih basked in a start, his second straight.
Udrih scored 17 points on a perfect 7 of 7 shooting. He had seven rebounds and three assists.
"Just trying to play basketball, run the team, try to be aggressive, come off the screens. Bigs were setting good screens, so I was wide open," Udrih said.
His night came against top-flight point guard Damian Lillard, who got his points, 23, but it took 26 shots.
Udrih connected on a 20-footer with 38 seconds to go that gave the Grizzlies a 97-93 lead and he took Lillard to task with 8.7 seconds to play on a 22-foot pull-up for a 101-96 lead.
In two starts, he is 13 for 19 with 32 points, eight assists and eight rebounds. Udrih was asked about both his final shots.
"The first one, I should be shooting free throws," he said (not really joking). "The second one, when I came off the screen, I looked on the clock and it was a low clock and I didn’t want to put someone else in the position to shoot a desperate shot."
Third point guard Nick Calathes played 18 minutes and had four assists and a pair of steals. There is no desperation in the Grizzlies’ point guard depth.
3. ALDRIDGE SCORES 32, GETS TO WATCH MENTOR SET A MARK
Portland center LaMarcus Aldridge said Saturday that Zach Randolph was his mentor when he came into the league.
Aldridge scored a game-high 32 points and added nine rebounds. Randolph had a team-high 20 points and 15 rebounds. The Grizzlies power forward became the franchise’s all-time career leader in rebounds when he grabbed his 4,097th. He passed Pau Gasol.
"It’s an accomplishment," Randolph said. "I’m excited about it."
When the mark was announced to the sold-out arena, Randolph got a standing ovation.
Since coming back to the lineup after nine games out with a sore knee, Randolph is rejuvenated. He has a double-double in all five games, averaging 19.2 points and 13.8 rebounds. He has double-digit rebounds in 11 straight games. Friday at Orlando, he became the eighth player in NBA history with at least 15,000 points, 2,500 offensive rebounds and 100 3-pointers.
"I’m happy for him," Joerger said. "The company that he’s in is tremendous."
The other seven players in the latter list: Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, Kevin Garnett, Antawn Jamison, Shawn Marion, Jack Sikma and Dominique Wilkins.
Gasol talked about his pre-Sunday excitement for his Colts as Indianapolis goes to New England in the AFC title game, calling Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, "tough." Pot, meet kettle.
97 — Portland entered the game allowing an NBA-best 97 points per game. The Grizzlies had 60 at the half.
778 — Portland’s Wesley Matthews passed Terry Porter on the Trail Blazers made 3-pointers list. He hit 7 of 14 and now has made 778 in 340 games.