Grizzlies-Bobcats Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 17, 2012
Any notions that the Memphis Grizzlies' hot start is a fluke likely have been dispelled over the past week. After a stretch of marquee victories, streaking Memphis visits a surprising Charlotte Bobcats team seeking a fourth consecutive victory Saturday night. The Grizzlies (7-1) dropped their opener to the Los Angeles Clippers on Halloween night, but they've since rattled off seven straight wins with the majority coming against quality foes. Memphis' victims include last season's NBA finals participants after it routed Miami 104-86 on Sunday before knocking off Oklahoma City 107-97 on Wednesday. The Grizzlies then defeated previously unbeaten New York 105-95 on Friday behind a game-high 24 points from Marc Gasol and 20 points and 15 rebounds from Zach Randolph. Rudy Gay added 17 points while Mike Conley finished with 16 and eight assists. "I think we are playing well right now, obviously," Conley said. "We have played some very good teams in the past week. (We) are just going to try and keep it going.'' Memphis, which has five wins by double digits, is on the verge of its first eight-game winning streak since Jan. 11-25, 2004, before it went on to set a franchise record with 50 victories. "The confidence is something that we have always had,'' Gay said. "I don't think it is (any) different as what we always have been. We are just playing basketball. We are getting better, that's all it is. "We are just doing it at a higher level.'' Randolph has averaged 20.4 points in his career versus Charlotte, but the Grizzlies had lost five of the previous six meetings before Conley's 20 points helped Memphis rally from 13 down for an 85-80 road victory April 20. The Bobcats (4-3) look to cool off the Grizzlies by staying hot in their own right. Kemba Walker hit a jumper with 0.7 seconds remaining in an 89-87 win over Minnesota on Wednesday - saving Charlotte after it blew a 16-point lead. Walker finished with a team-high 22 points and Byron Mullens added 12 and 15 rebounds. Ramon Sessions scored 18 points off the bench and is averaging 16.3 - second to Walker's team-best 19.0 - despite not starting a game. "It's a lot better learning in a win, I can tell you that much,'' Walker said. "But it's very important. There's going to be more games when we have that same situation. We've got to learn to take care of the basketball, make the right plays when we're up big.'' Walker could certainly learn from April's loss to the Grizzlies. He had a career-high seven turnovers, missing 10 of 15 shots. First-year coach Mike Dunlap has worked the team hard through the preseason and into the regular season, getting results not seen last season with the team on the verge of a four-game winning streak. The Bobcats won four of their final 37 games of 2011-12. "It's because the guys have bought the message and they've worked hard on the wood,'' Dunlap said. "We've had some long practices and we've heard some squawking on that. Hopefully the volume gets turned down on that a little bit because they can see the benefit.''
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