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Memphis breaks out in third quarter

3/8/2004

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Though hard work and defense are
important, the Memphis Grizzlies sometimes need a boost only Jason
Williams can provide.

Williams scored 13 of his 17 points during a decisive
third-quarter run in the Grizzlies' fifth straight victory, 95-85
over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.

Bonzi Wells had 18 points for the Grizzlies, who have won 14 of
17 to move within a half-game of Dallas for fifth place in the
Western Conference playoff race.

Memphis has been one of the NBA's most impressive teams since
early January, and while coach Hubie Brown points to the little
things -- deflections, passing and substitution patterns -- it's
clear the Grizzlies thrive when their point guard is at the top of
his flamboyant game.

"Jason Williams put on a spectacular shooting show," Brown
said. "He gave us a lot of lift, because we were doing a lot of
good things, but he was making it happen for us. When he performs
like that, he gives everyone else on the team that extra zip."

Memphis fell behind by 12 in the third quarter before making a
dynamic 30-7 run. Williams led the way with his inimitable
showmanship, starting with an astonishing behind-the-back fake
before a layup. Williams also hit three 3-pointers in the run,
causing headaches for the three defenders Golden State used against
him.

"It amazes me every time I see it," Wells said of Williams'
skill. "You shouldn't be able to do the things with the basketball
that he does. It's crazy."

Shane Battier scored nine of his 15 points in the third quarter.
Pau Gasol added 14 points and eight rebounds.

The Grizzlies won their franchise-record fourth straight road
game despite playing without injured starters Lorenzen Wright and
Mike Miller. Memphis, which beat the Los Angeles Clippers on
Saturday, plays six of its next seven games at home.

"It's exciting for our team to come out and win all four games
on the road trip," Brown said. "Every one of the games was
decided by our defense from the middle of the third quarter until
the end of the game."

Jason Richardson scored 17 points and Clifford Robinson had 15
for the Warriors, who have lost five straight without injured point
guards Speedy Claxton and Nick Van Exel. Erick Dampier had 13
points and 11 rebounds in his fourth strong game of the season
against the Grizzlies, who attempted to acquire him at the trade
deadline.

"It is a dilemma right now without a point guard," Warriors
coach Eric Musselman said. "There is no question that we're
struggling against defensive pressure and in handling the ball. The
guys are trying, but it remains difficult without a true point
guard."

Claxton had a career-high 28 points in a victory at Memphis on
Feb. 25 -- but he also broke a bone in his hand in the opening
minutes, keeping him out of the lineup ever since. The Warriors are
floundering without their point guards, losing three straight home
games in the last six days.

And it gets worse: Starting with Tuesday's game at first-place
Sacramento, Golden State has four road games in five nights.

Golden State had a strong first half, but the Grizzlies hit two
buzzer-beating shots, including Earl Watson's 48-footer as time
expired in the first quarter. The shots kept Memphis from facing a
deficit much larger than Golden State's 54-46 halftime lead.

"Things were going well," said Mike Dunleavy, who had 13
points and seven rebounds. "I don't know what happened, if they
figured us out or what. ... It's tough (guarding Williams). He's
smaller, quicker, and he can shoot and drive. It's a tough matchup.
What can you do?"

Game notes
The Grizzlies put Wright on the injured list Saturday with
a sprained knee. Jake Tsakalidis had three points in Wright's
starting spot, including the 1,000th point of his career. ...
Memphis won three of four in the season series. ... Williams hit
the 700th 3-pointer of his career. ... Miller missed his ninth
straight game with back spasms.