Hawks-Grizzlies Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 08, 2012
The Memphis Grizzlies' 13-game win streak over Eastern Conference foes could be put to the test Saturday night. The Grizzlies will be back home against a surging Atlanta Hawks team that has won eight of nine. Memphis (14-3) has been nearly unbeatable at home, going 9-1. The Grizzlies last lost to an East team on March 16, a 114-110 overtime defeat to Toronto. The Hawks (11-5), meanwhile, have had six different players lead them or tie for the team lead in scoring during this 8-1 run. Atlanta has also won nine of its 11 meetings with Memphis, although the Grizzlies won the lone contest last season 96-77 on Feb. 2. Both teams are known for defense. Memphis leads the West in limiting opponents to 91.1 points per game and its 43.4 defensive field-goal percentage is one of the league's best marks. Atlanta is also among the NBA's best teams in those departments, allowing 94.3 points per game and 43.4 percent shooting. The Hawks are the league's only team to not allow an opponent to shoot 50 percent in a game. Both teams won hard-fought contests Friday night. Rudy Gay tied a season high with 28 points and Quincy Pondexter matched his season best with 16 in a 96-89 victory at New Orleans. The Grizzlies led by as many as 14 points and held on when the margin got as close as one in the fourth quarter. "We just toughed it out," Gay said. "This is one of those games that a young team probably wouldn't win, but the fact that we've been around and know how it is, the fact that this is the NBA and everybody has a chance to win, that's what got us over the hump." Josh Smith had 23 points and 15 rebounds and Al Horford also posted a double-double as the Hawks beat Washington 104-95 at home. Atlanta led by as many as 18 points before its advantage was cut to two in the final period. "I think when we got the big lead we got a little complacent," coach Larry Drew said. "We have to develop a killer instinct. Tonight, we didn't have it. We didn't do it." Horford had 14 points and 14 rebounds for his fourth straight double-double. He's averaging 17.8 points and 12.0 rebounds in that span. For Memphis, Pondexter hit all six of his shots Friday, including four 3-pointers, for his second straight 16-point performance. "It wasn't I was extra assertive or anything tonight," Pondexter said. "I was just making the right basketball plays." Gay reached 20 points for the first time in six games Friday. "He's a good player, we needed him to play his game and that's all we ask," coach Lionel Hollins said. "He's been playing well, but tonight he made his shots and that's exactly what we needed." A matchup to watch Saturday will be at point guard between Indianapolis natives Jeff Teague for Atlanta and Mike Conley for Memphis. Teague scored 19 points Friday while Conley's 2.7 steals per game rank him among the league's best. Hawks guard Kyle Korver will miss his fourth straight game Saturday due to back problems.
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