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VOL. 131 | NO. 24 | Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Grizzlies Rolling Toward The All-Star Break

By Don Wade

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After the Grizzlies had gone into New Orleans and handed the Pelicans a 110-95 defeat, Anthony Davis neatly summed up the transformation that occurs – has been occurring – when the Grizzlies shoot from the perimeter like a real live contemporary NBA team.

Since moving from the starting lineup to the bench, Memphis forward Jeff Green has scored 16 or more points in seven of nine games. The Grizzlies are 8-1 during that time. 

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

Asked about the Grizzlies making more than 56 percent of their threes on Monday, Feb. 1, Davis told NOLA.com: “It is tough for anyone when they make that many threes. Now, you can’t just worry about Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. With Vince (Carter) and Jeff (Green) and all those guys making threes, they are a tough team to beat.

“They become the whole package.”

At 29-20 and winners of four straight and eight of their last nine games, the Grizzlies gradually are restoring the hope they carried into this season, the notion that there was at least one more good run in this group.

Against the Pelicans, the Grizzlies got 24 points off the bench from what has become the Mean Green Scoring Machine, but not at the expense of production from Zach Randolph: 22 points and 12 rebounds.

“Jeff played really well tonight,” said Pelicans guard Norris Cole, that statement an ongoing echo.

For Green, it was his fourth straight game with at least 21 points off the bench. And since coach Dave Joerger returned Green to the bench on Jan. 14, Green has scored 16 or more points in seven of nine games. Point guard Mike Conley, who has been less than consistent so far, gave the Grizzlies a double-double with 17 points and 10 assists at New Orleans and played floor general in the fourth quarter as the Grizzlies turned a close game into a 15-point victory.

Memphis finished on a 26-9 run against the Pelicans, who just completed a 5-2 homestand and have been playing well.

“We were at that time in the game where guys were getting a little frustrated,” Conley told media when speaking of the fourth-quarter change in momentum. “I just wanted everybody to realize: ‘Hey, there’s a lot of time left. We’re going to get this thing figured out. Just calm down.’”

Recently, that statement seems to apply beyond just one game. The Grizzlies, who formerly treated scoring 100 points as a bridge too far, now have hit that magic number in nine straight games.

The Grizzlies have just four games left before the All-Star break, playing at New York on Thursday, Feb. 4; at home against Dallas on Saturday, Feb. 6; in Portland on Monday, Feb. 8; and then finishing with a Wednesday, Feb. 10, game at Brooklyn. Only the Mavericks have a winning record.

“This is always a pivotal part of the season for every team heading into the All-Star break,” Conley said recently. “It’s easy for teams to look at that date and say we get a break here for a week. For us, we have to stay locked in.

“This very well could be the part of the season we look back on and say, ‘This is where we made our move and create some space.’”

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