After getting a much-needed victory, the revamped Memphis Grizzlies appear to have a prime opportunity to keep their momentum going over the next two weeks.
The Grizzlies begin a string of five games versus sub-.500 opponents Sunday against the injury-plagued Minnesota Timberwolves, who've lost 14 of 16 and seven straight on the road.
Memphis (31-18) dropped three of its first four after dealing leading scorer Rudy Gay to Toronto on Jan. 30 - the second of two recent trades - and that caused coach Lionel Hollins to address his team before the start of a three-game homestand Friday.
"My conversation to them was about believing that they were a good team and committing to the process of being a good team again because we haven't been since we made the trades," he said.
The Grizzlies responded with a 99-93 victory over Golden State, a team that's in sixth place in the Western Conference and just behind Memphis in the standings. Marc Gasol had a team-best 20 points and 11 rebounds while Austin Daye, one of the players acquired in the Gay deal, scored 12 off the bench while hitting 3 of 4 from 3-point range.
Daye had totaled four points on 1-of-7 shooting from the field in his first three games with Memphis.
"It was a little step forward," Gasol said. "We've got to be consistent now, get our rest, tomorrow come back and get some work and get ready for Minnesota."
The Grizzlies have a good chance to build that consistency thanks to a favorable stretch in the schedule, during which they'll face five consecutive opponents that are each more than 10 games under .500.
Memphis will try to add to Minnesota's woes while extending an eight-game win streak in the series. The Timberwolves (18-29) head into the first of three meetings with the Grizzlies this season having lost six in a row in Memphis since a 94-87 victory Jan. 6, 2009.
Minnesota's last six defeats overall have come by an average of just 6.0 points. The Timberwolves led New York by 11 with seven minutes remaining Friday before losing 100-94 to finish a 1-5 homestand.
"If we keep playing like that, we're going to win games," coach Rick Adelman said. "We just play with the people we have and make plays."
Minnesota has played without star forward Kevin Love since Jan. 3. Chase Budinger, Brandon Roy, Malcolm Lee and Andrei Kirilenko have also been out, with Kirilenko missing the past two games due to a strained right quadriceps.
The Timberwolves do have J.J. Barea, who scored 28 points in the most recent meeting with Memphis on April 17. Nikola Pekovic added 16 and 11 rebounds, but Minnesota managed only 28 points in the second half of a 91-84 home defeat.
Ricky Rubio missed that game following his ACL tear, but he has been coming on stronger lately, posting double-digit assists in each of his last three games after failing to do so even once in his first 19 contests after returning. He also had a season-high 18 points against the Knicks.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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