And Dante Cunningham, who filled Gasol's spot, took advantage of
the opportunity with his best performance of the season.
Rudy Gay scored 21 points, Cunningham added season highs of 13
points and 14 rebounds, and the Grizzlies beat the Minnesota
Timberwolves 93-86 on Tuesday night.
Cunningham, who played only one minute in the Grizzlies' 102-96
victory at the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, played 40-plus and was
6 of 9 from the field as all five Memphis starters finished in
"Dante didn't play much in the (Lakers) game and didn't know if
Marc was going to play (against the Timberwolves) or not, but came
prepared," said guard Mike Conley, who had 12 points and eight
assists. "That's the kind of focus we need from everybody, and I
think we fed off that."
Both teams were dealing with injuries. The Timberwolves were
without guard J.J. Barea and center Nikola Pekovic, while guard
Ricky Rubio is out for the season after knee surgery. Michael
Beasley is dealing with a sprained toe on his left foot that
limited him to 11 minutes and 3 points against the Grizzlies.
"We're all we've got right now," Love said of the teammates
who are still in uniform. "I know other guys need to step up and
play as hard as they can. We're definitely finding out about
Meanwhile, Memphis played without Gasol and is still waiting for
forward Zach Randolph to get back in game shape after missing 2 ½
months with a right knee injury. Then Conley went down with a
twisted ankle late in the first half, but finished the game.
"Somebody's out; somebody has to step up," Gay said. "Dante
did it. Mo (Speights) did it also."
The Grizzlies pulled away in the fourth quarter, outscoring the
Timberwolves 25-19 and missing only one of six free throws in the
"Fourth quarter, we're right there, and then they make plays
down the stretch to get the stops they need," Minnesota coach Rick
Memphis shot 43 percent from the floor and missed all 11 3-point
attempts, but overcame that by holding Minnesota to 39 percent
overall and 31 percent from 3-point range.
Memphis led 44-41 at the break behind 12 points from Gay. Love
had 11 for Minnesota in a half where both teams committed nine
The Grizzlies opened a 44-36 lead on a short jumper by Conley,
but the Timberwolves scored the last five points of the first half.
Conley had headed to the locker room before those final Wolves
points, injuring his ankle after hitting the jumper with 1:35 left
in the half.
"It could have easily gone south for us with me going down and
Marc out, guys being in a different roles, different settings,"
Conley said, when asked about the reserves stepping in.
Conley returned to start the second half, but Minnesota came out
firing. The Timberwolves used a 20-6 rally to erase the Memphis
advantage and take their biggest lead of the night at 63-55.
Memphis answered by closing the third quarter with a 13-4 run to
retake the lead at 68-67.
"I decided to give (Love) about three minutes rest there, and
they closed the gap and took the lead," Adelman said. "That's
when we need to have other people step up, when he's not in the
game. We have to find a way to make sure we maintain during that
The Grizzlies extended the lead to as many as 11 in the final
period before the Wolves rallied again. Three-pointers by Love and
Ellington pulled them within 88-83 with 1:34 left, but they
couldn't get any closer.
It was the latest example of reserves stepping up and filling a
role as Memphis was able to cobble together enough of a lineup to
make it past the Timberwolves despite the injuries.
"That's why they have 12 players on the roster," Memphis coach
Lionel Hollins said. "I just told our guys you can't think you are
not going to play. Everybody is important for the team. Everyone
has a role, and there is a time that you have to step up."
The Grizzlies were playing their only home game out of a two-week, eight-game stretch. ... Barea was not with the team, missing his second straight game with a bruised right quadriceps. ... Memphis has won seven straight over Minnesota. The Wolves' last win in the series was Feb. 6, 2010. ... Gasol missed his first game of this season. He only missed one game last season. ... Love recorded his 65th double-double of the season.
David Fizdale, an assistant with the Heat, has been offered the head-coaching job with the Grizzlies and the sides are working on a contract, according to ESPN and a Vertical report.
Check out top NBA playoff moments from the past week, including the Toronto Raptors' victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers to tie their series 2-2 and the Oklahoma City Thunder's victory to claim a 3-1 lead in their series with the Golden State Warriors.
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