Short-handed Grizzlies take down Timberwolves

Published 8:55 am Monday, February 6, 2017

The excuses were right there for the Memphis Grizzlies. End of a 10-day trip, second night of back-to-back, three key players getting the night off.

They were having none of it, the latest chapter of toughness in a franchise history rich with it.

JaMychal Green scored a career-high 29 points and the short-handed Grizzlies grinded out a 107-99 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.

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Mike Conley added 20 points and eight assists for the Grizzlies, who rested Marc Gasol, Tony Allen and Chandler Parsons on the second night of a back-to-back. The Grizzlies scored 21 points off of 13 turnovers by Minnesota and only turned it over 10 times.

“We all had kind of excuses to make up to lose a game, but guys didn’t use that,” Conley said. “We said, ‘We’re playing for something.’”

Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points and 16 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have lost three straight after showing some signs of life. The Wolves led by 18 points in the first half, but were outworked the rest of the way on a day they lost Zach LaVine for the remainder of the season with a knee injury.

“We got too comfortable with the lead,” Towns said. “We felt like we were just cruising to the victory line and we stumbled along the way.”

The Grizzlies may have been resting three key players, but they still had Conley. The clutch point guard directed traffic, got his lesser-celebrated teammates involved early and then made his move late. His three-point play with 4:23 to go put Memphis up 88-82. And Green gobbled up two misses down the stretch for putbacks to power Memphis to the win.

The Wolves started the day with some devastating news when LaVine’s MRI revealed a torn ACL. A sullen locker room pregame showed the concern for a very popular teammate, but Minnesota built an 18-point lead early in the second quarter on the strength of superior ball movement.

The flow ground to a halt for much of the next two quarters, and Vince Carter hit back-to-back 3-pointers for an 11-point lead midway through the third.

Andrew Wiggins scored 23 points, but shot just 9 of 22 for Minnesota.

“It was a tough day. But we still have to be ready to play,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We all felt the disappointment in (LaVine’s injury), but no one is going to feel sorry for us. We have to be ready to roll.”