The Memphis Grizzlies hope a thrilling victory over the West's best team can propel them to a strong push into the postseason.
The Grizzlies will start a three-game road trip Wednesday against the Portland Trail Blazers and are coming off a 92-90 victory versus the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night. Grizzlies guard Mike Conley scored the last five points of the game and his running layup with less than a second (0.6) on the clock lifted Memphis to its third straight win.
Conley buried a 3-pointer with 30.7 seconds to go to even the score at 90-90 and led the team with 23 points on 11-of-17 shooting. Zach Randolph compiled 11 points and 10 rebounds for his 42nd double-double, and was happy for Conley afterward.
"He's constantly getting better," Randolph said of Conley. "The sky's the limit for him."
Jerryd Bayless and Marc Gasol scored 17 and 16 points, respectively, for the Grizzlies, who are even with Denver for the third spot in the West with the Los Angeles Clippers just one-half game behind. The Clippers are actually ahead of the Grizzlies in the conference because they're a division leader.
Memphis is 17-6 since the All-Star break and its road record stands at 20-16. One more road victory would give the Grizzlies a winning record as the guest for the first time in a season. The Grizzlies matched a franchise record with their 50th win, tying the 2003-04 squad.
The Grizzlies, who sit second in opponents' scoring at 90.0 ppg, are also slated to visit the Lakers and Kings on the trip.
Portland has pretty much played itself out of a postseason spot and sits 5 1/2 games behind Utah and the Lakers for the eighth and final berth in the West with eight games to play. Dallas is 2 1/2 games off the pace.
The Trail Blazers have dropped five in a row and seven of nine games, and will begin the final homestand of the season, a five-game western challenge versus the Grizzlies, Rockets, Mavericks, Lakers and Thunder.
The Blazers are coming off Monday's 112-102 loss at Utah as Wesley Matthews had a team-high 23 points and rookie Damian Lillard chipped in 17 points, five rebounds and five assists in defeat. The Blazers played their third straight game without All-Star big man LaMarcus Aldridge, who is out at least a week with a balky ankle.
Lillard set a single-season rookie record for made 3-pointers (169). Steph Curry drained 166 3-pointers in 2009-10.
"It's bitter sweet," said Lillard, who leads all first-year players in scoring (19.0 ppg) and assists (6.5 apg). "I wish I did it in a win."
Portland is winless in two straight at home and owns a 22-13 mark as the host.
The Trail Blazers have lost two of the first three encounters with Memphis this season, but are 7-3 over the previous 10 meetings at the Rose Garden.