While the Brooklyn Nets are just trying to survive an eight-game, 16-day, 8,100-mile cross-country trip, the Memphis Grizzlies are fighting for a coveted spot in the postseason in the Western Conference.
With a little more than a month to go in the regular season, the Grizzlies are in a dogfight with the Los Angeles Clippers, the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder for the fourth seed. After losing to Houston on Friday, it would seem a perfect time for Memphis to get back on the winning track with the Nets coming to FedExForum on Monday.
The NBA's version of the Road Warriors, Brooklyn has the worst record in the league at 10-51 and has won only once on its current road trip. The Nets have lost 18 of 19 games, but the Grizzlies are taking nothing for granted -- and rightly so.
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In the loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, the Nets fought back from 15 down before finally succumbing.
Brook Lopez scored 26 points and Sean Kilpatrick came off the bench for 20. Brooklyn shot 52.3 percent from the field, including 14 for 30 (46.7) on 3-point attempts.
And when the teams met in Brooklyn last month, it was four-point game late in the contest before the Grizzlies squashed any chance of a Nets' upset.
"We came up with stops when we needed stops to create a little separation and we got the win," Memphis coach David Fizdale said after that win.
Not much has changed since that win in February. The Nets continue to play hard, even if it doesn't show in the win-loss column.
"Yeah, it's tough to go through, but you've got to commend all the guys for showing absolutely no quit," Lopez told Newsday following the loss to the Trail Blazers. "We had a few rough patches throughout the game where we were right there, getting back in the game, and it was on us in those situations, not so much what they did."
Having Jeremy Lin healthy gives the Nets an added dimension on offense. Against Portland, he didn't show any signs of a lingering hamstring injury and scored 18 points with three rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and four 3-pointers in 22 minutes.
"I think we're doing a better job and getting a better rhythm," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said of the offense. "Obviously, Jeremy helps a lot. Just his understanding of what we're trying to do and his experience."
Point guard Spencer Dinwiddie has provided stability and solid play in the backcourt. On Friday in a loss to Utah, Dinwiddie's streak of five full games without a turnover ended. Against Portland, he committed another turnover in 27 minutes while scoring 14 points.
Mike Conley will be a handful, though, for Lin and Dinwiddie. On the season, Conley is averaging 19.9 points and 6.2 assists per game. In the loss to the Rockets, Conley compiled 23 points, seven assists, six rebounds and two steals.
Center Marc Gasol chipped in 17 points, seven assists and four blocks and forward JaMychal Green had 20 points and 10 boards as the Grizzlies lost for the fifth time in eight games.
Despite the loss, Fizdale likes where his team is headed.
"We competed. We held each other to a higher standard. We lost a game but we're building something good. No, I'm not worried," he said.
Good news came out of the loss as Grizzlies forward Chandler Parsons started back-to-back games for the first time this season. He played only 19 minutes and scored only two points and had seven rebounds.
On Friday night, he played 23 minutes and compiled seven points and four rebounds in a 104-100 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.