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Gasol scores 23 as Grizzlies beat Blazers 91-85

March 7, 2013

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — For the second straight home game, the Memphis Grizzlies overcame a significant deficit to escape with a win.

Marc Gasol had 23 points and 12 rebounds, Jerryd Bayless scored all of his 13 points in the final 13 minutes, and the Grizzlies beat the Portland Trail Blazers 91-85 on Wednesday night.

In its last home game, Memphis trailed Dallas by 25 before grabbing a 90-84 win on Feb. 27, the largest home comeback in franchise history. This time, the Grizzlies rallied from 17 down in the third quarter to win their second straight and 10th in the last 11.

“I don’t like being down 17 or 25, but being in those situations, we get a taste of it, and we find who we are,” said Grizzlies guard Mike Conley, who had 20 points and six assists.

Tony Allen scored 10 points, including two free throws with 4.8 seconds left that provided the final margin. The second half was another display of Memphis’ defense, as the Grizzlies outscored Portland 53-35, and held the Trail Blazers to 28 percent shooting over the final two quarters.

“Normally, when we play like that, I think we’re not playing hard,” Allen said of Memphis’ first-half performance. “I think we’re not sticking to our game plan, taking those guys for granted. Whenever we key in and focus on the game plan at hand, we all tune in and we’re able to climb back into the lead.

“But it’s definitely not something we can keep doing.”

Damian Lillard scored 20 points on 8-for-16 shooting for Portland. J.J. Hickson had 12 points and 13 rebounds, Eric Maynor also scored 12, and Wesley Matthews finished with 11 points.

Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge each added 10. Aldridge also had 10 rebounds and six assists.

All of Batum’s points came in the first half, as he and Aldridge were a combined 6 of 23 from the field for the night as Portland shot 41 percent. Batum missed all five of his shots after intermission.

Memphis overcame Portland’s final lead with an 11-1 run to go ahead 87-83 with 21 seconds left. Gasol had six points in the stretch, and Bayless had a 3-pointer to start the rally.

“That was a disappointing loss,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “Maybe we could have executed a little better, but that was a disappointing loss.”

Memphis was without leading rebounder Zach Randolph (left ankle sprain) and reserve forward Darrell Arthur (sore neck and back), and early, the absence of two main pieces of the rotation seemed to affect the Memphis offense. Gasol took over the inside scoring load.

“I thought Marc really wanted the ball and was attacking,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “But every night we need Marc to be aggressive. I thought he did an outstanding job of doing that.”

In the second half, the Grizzlies stopped the effectiveness of the Portland pick-and-rolls, tightened up on defense and used that to fuel the offense, Stotts said.

“They came out and played a lot harder than we did as far as energy and getting loose balls,” Lillard said. “I thought we worked hard to get what we got, but they outworked us, and I thought they definitely turned it up defensively and made more shots.”

Portland shot 54 percent in the first half, including Lillard hitting 5 of 7 for 14 points and a 50-38 lead at the break.

The Memphis offense seemed completely out of synch with unusual rotations due to missing frontline players.

“Part of it in the first half was that we were making shots, and they weren’t,” Stotts said, “so we were playing in transition and flow and not playing against their halfcourt defense.”

The Portland lead reached 13 in the half and could have been more, except Lillard’s floater at the end of the half came after the horn.

Gasol, who had 10 points in the first half, couldn’t explain why the Grizzlies have struggled getting started in their last two home games.

“If I knew it, we wouldn’t have it. We would solve it,” Gasol said. “At least we can fight back. We showed a lot of heart, but it’s not enough. You can get away with it with some teams, but the good ones are going to pull away and go up 30, and then there’s no chance.”

Portland continued to extend its lead to open the second half, eventually reaching 17 in the third quarter. Hickson and Lillard each had a couple of baskets.

After Portland built the lead to 63-46 near the midway point of the third, Memphis closed the quarter with a 19-4 rally. The last basket came on a 3-pointer from Bayless, his first points of the game, trimming the deficit to 67-65 entering the fourth.

Another 3-pointer from Bayless erased the Trail Blazers’ advantage and put the Grizzlies up 72-71 with just more than 9 minutes left.

But after an exchange of leads, Matthews converted a three-point play, and Maynor scored from long range to rebuild the Portland advantage to 82-76.

Memphis then began its final push for the victory.

“We’re not always going out there blowing people out,” Conley said. “We’re winning close games. We’re having to come back. Every night is a different night, and for us to win in different ways is good.”

NOTES: The Trail Blazers lost their seventh straight road game, and have not won on the road since a 100-98 victory at Minnesota on Feb. 4. ... Memphis F Quincy Pondexter was a game-time decision with a case of food poisoning. He finished with four points on 2-for-6 shooting in 22 minutes. . Lillard connected on his first 3-pointer of the game, giving him 130, most by a rookie since Stephen Curry made 166 in 2009-10. ... Hickson finished the game 6 of 12 from the field. He has shot at least 50 percent in 23 straight games. . Conley had two steals, giving him 50 straight games with at least one. ... Memphis is now 29-2 when they outshoot their opponents. .It was Lillard’s 30th game of at least 20 points. He leads all rookies in that category. . Hickson recorded his 33rd double-double, ranking him fourth in the NBA.

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