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Mike Conley helps Memphis Grizzlies hand Brooklyn Nets 13th straight loss

By
Larry Fleisher, The Sports Xchange
Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11). Photo by Mark Goldman/UPI
Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11). Photo by Mark Goldman/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK -- Before the game, Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale gave his team some simple instructions.

Those instructions were to treat the final two games before the All-Star break as they were trailing a playoff series three games to two.

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Mid-February hardly is an elimination game, but the Grizzlies were more than up to the task of taking care of things as Mike Conley scored 32 points and Marc Gasol nearly had a triple-double in a 112-103 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night.

"I thought our two best players really set the tone for trying to get a road win and I thought we really concentrated defensively," Fizdale said. "I thought we came up with stops when we needed stops to create a little separation and we got the win."

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The most important separation occurred as the Grizzlies allowed the Nets to linger and it was a 99-92 lead with 3:55 remaining. Then Conley took over by hitting six foul shots, a 3-pointer and a layup to erase some of the lingering frustration from Friday's 122-107 home loss to the Golden State Warriors.

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Conley logged his fifth 30-point game of the season, matching the total he accumulated in his first nine seasons and coming within six of his career high set two weeks ago in Phoenix. After going 6 of 16 from the field on Friday, the point guard made 10 of 16 and had six assists.

"I thought we did fairly good," Conley said. "I thought we could have been a lot better. There were times when we were locked in and made the plays when they were making runs and that's the most important thing because that's going to happen in the games that count for you down the stretch.

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"You're going to have spells where they you get cold and they get hold and how do you handle yourself in those situations. We had a couple of those times tonight and did a good job of finishing it off."

Gasol added 19 points and just missed his third career triple-double with nine rebounds and eight assists as the Grizzlies led for the final 39 1/2 minutes and shot 50.6 percent from the field.

"We played the way we're supposed to play," Gasol said. "We executed. We were disciplined and I thought we did a good job. You should have that mindset every game you play, especially defensively."

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Brandan Wright added 17 points and Vince Carter chipped in 14 to move within two of tying Hall of Famer Allen Iverson for 23rd place on the career scoring list.

The Nets began the game by making eight of their first 12 shots but wound up with their 13rd straight loss and franchise-record 15th consecutive home setback.

"We just have to come out and keep improving every game," Nets forward Trevor Booker said. "We're gaining confidence and we feel like we've played well the last five or so games, so we just have to keep building on that."

Brook Lopez scored 17 points and Spencer Dinwiddie added a season-best 17 as Brooklyn lost despite shooting 46 percent and hitting 12 3-pointers.

Sean Kilpatrick added 15 while Booker and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson contributed 13 apiece in Brooklyn's eighth straight single-digit loss.

"We competed until the end and we were aggressive and physical with them," Lopez said. "They definitely make their mark by grinding games out and being tough, being physical, and I think we responded to that."

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The Nets trailed by 15 midway through the third quarter but hung around and were within 79-72 entering the fourth when Kilpatrick hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key as the shot clock expired.

Brooklyn was within 87-79 after a putback by Booker with 9:07 remaining. Nearly two minutes later, the Grizzlies upped the lead to 95-79 on a dunk by Wright sandwiched around two Troy Daniels' 3-pointers.

Memphis continued to struggle to sustain big leads and allowed a 13-4 spurt to bring Brooklyn within 99-92 after a dunk by Hollis-Jefferson with 3:55 remaining.

The Grizzlies never let the Nets get within eight the rest of the way. A layup and 3-pointer by Conley in a span of 20 seconds finished it off.

NOTES: Brazilian legend and Hall of Famer Oscar Schmidt was honored before the game. He was presented with a Nets jersey with the No. 14 by F Luis Scola and coach Kenny Atkinson. Schmidt was a sixth-round pick of the Nets in 1984 but declined to join the NBA to stay with Brazil's national team. ... Monday might have been 40-year-old G/F Vince Carter's last appearance against the Nets as a visiting player. "It's a testament to how he takes care of his body," Atkinson said. "It's a testament to how smart he is, a testament to how skilled he is." ... Carter played 374 games for the Nets from December 2004 to April 2009. ... Memphis rested G Tony Allen. It was the sixth game he missed, but the first to rest. ... Brooklyn F Quincy Acy (sprained left ankle) missed his fourth straight game.

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