The Memphis Grizzlies blew out the Minnesota Timberwolves in the fourth quarter to sweep the season series between the two squads and to extend the Grizzlies’ win streak over the Pups to 11. Leading the way was Marc Gasol, who helped overcome a big performance on the other end from close friend and fellow Spaniard Ricky Rubio.
Gasol, who has been playing through injury after suffering a torn abdominal muscle just a couple weeks ago, took advantage of the short-handed Wolves who were missing big man Nikola Pekovic to a sprained ankle. The 7-foot-1 center has played a big part in what has become an impressive Memphis season this year.
With Minnesota taking a 67-65 lead into the final period of play, the Grizzlies ignited to blow out the Pups 34-19 in the fourth quarter and Memphis improved to 49-24 on the season. The frontcourt options for Memphis were seemingly endless for a team that had enough time covering for Pekovic’s 290-pound body in the paint.
Memphis survived a near triple-double from Tricky Ricky as he fell one assists shy of his second career triple-double. The Grizz fought back with 50% field goal shooting as a team and 60% marksmanship from beyond the arc. Backup forward Darrell Arthur added 14 points (6-9 FG) off of the bench to spark a strong second unit bunch and point guard Mike Conley controlled the pace in the final period to help extend the Grizzlies’ dominance over the Timberwolves.
Keys of the Game:
- Steals - The Lionel Hollins-led group did an excellent job of getting hands in the passing lanes and really interfered with the Wolves ball movement in the fourth quarter especially. Out-stealing Minnesota 9-3, six different Memphis players recorded at least one steal in an impressive show of defense.
- Turnovers - Whenever you give the other team extra opportunities to score, you are shooting yourself in the foot and that is exactly what Minnesota did as they committed 16 turnovers to only 9 by the Grizzlies. Memphis does an excellent job of lateral ball movement in the half court offense and displayed excellent patience by working the shot clock to find the open man on the offensive end.
- Shooting - The Grizzlies were precise in their shot looks as they nailed 6 of their 10 attempts from long-range and 37 of 73 looks from the field.
Three Stars of the Game:
- Marc Gasol - The loss of Pekovic from Minnesota’s frontcourt proved to be the dagger in this game as the Pups had a very difficult time containing Gasol with the combo of Greg Stiemsma and Chris Johnson. Well regarded as one of the top passing big men in the NBA, Gasol tallied 6 assists while also converting on 8 of his 12 field goal attempts as he notched 21 points and 8 rebounds. While many feared he may be lost for the season following his recent re-injury of his abdomen, Gasol has come on strong over the past few games and continues to give his squad momentum as they eye a playoff run in the following weeks.
- Ricky Rubio - Ricky truly played another fantastic game despite little support from his teammates in the final period, and unfortunately fell only 1 assist shy of notching his second career triple-double. In 40 minutes, Rubio finished with the line of 23 points (6-12 FG), 10 rebounds and 9 assists. Ricky provided more scoring than he is used to and carried the team offensively throughout much of the game.
- Mike Conley - Memphis’ point guard really set the tone for the Grizzlies offense in the final period of play and did an excellent job of pushing the ball up the floor for transition buckets. The former Ohio State standout finished with the line of 19 points (8-15 FG, 3-3 3Pt) and 4 assists in 33 minutes.