Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/5/13
MEMPHIS -- The Portland Trail Blazers overcame a poor shooting night with a superior defensive effort as they held the Memphis Grizzlies to 28 percent shooting in the second half -- including 23 percent in the final quarter – to win 86-84 Friday for their ninth victory in 12 games It also was the Trail Blazers 14th win over Memphis in the past 18 games. The Trail Blazers (17-15) were led by Wesley Matthews, who scored 21 points and was 5 of 8 from beyond the arc. J.J. Hickson added 19 and LaMarcus Aldridge had 15 points and 12 rebounds. Marreese Speights, starting in place of Zach Randolph, led the Grizzlies (20-10) with 22 points and 13 rebounds, both season highs. Randolph missed his first game of the season because of flulike symptoms. Rudy Gay scored 19 for the Grizzlies, but had only two in the second half and missed a potential game-tying basket at the buzzer. Memphis missed its final 10 shot attempts, including a potential game-winning layup by point guard Mike Conley with 7.9 seconds to go. Conley's attempt, with Portland leading 85-84, was a little strong and glanced off the front of the rim. Conley and shooting guard Tony Allen combined to go 4-for-17. "Obviously this one hurt because we had our chances," Allen said. "And it was a tough loss with one of our key guys being down." Speights posted Randolph-like numbers in his first start of the season, but also was unable to convert from close range during the Grizzlies late meltdown. Memphis didn't make a field goal in the final three minutes. "We were just rushing it and the ball wouldn't go in," Speights said. "It's the NBA and things like that happen all the time." The Grizzlies led 78-75 with 9:03 left, but went nearly five minutes without scoring. Unable to extend their lead, the Grizzlies allowed an equally misfiring Portland to hang around. The Trail Blazers shot 40.7 percent, only slightly better than the Grizzlies' 39.5. Gay was 1 of 8 shooting in the second half after being disrupted mostly by Nicolas Batum and Matthews. "I thought particularly in the second half that Nick was very good on Rudy," said Portland coach Terry Stotts. "We let them penetrate too much in the first half. They got into the paint far too often. Both those guys (Batum and Matthews) really took the challenge to guard him on every possession. They made it tough on him." Speights scored 12 of the Grizzlies' first 14 points to open the third quarter, giving Memphis a 64-58 lead. He finished with 16 in the quarter and his driving dunk, off a no-look pass from Marc Gasol, gave the Grizzlies a 70-64 lead with three minutes left. Portland battled back to tie the game at 72 at the end of three quarters and held the Grizzlies to 12 points in the final quarter. "The game never really got away until we lost it," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "I mean, if you can't make buckets you can't score. We got shots. We got to the basket. We did things that we've been trying to do. We just didn't make anything." Conley was 0-for-5 shooting in the second half and Allen was 0-for-4. "Defensively, we've been playing outstanding," Conley said. "We've just got to find a way to score the ball down the stretch." After a slow start (the Grizzlies missed seven of their first eight shots), Memphis rode Gay's strong shooting to take a 50-47 lead at the half. Gay scored 10 in the second quarter and had 17 at halftime. Playing without Randolph, one of the league's top rebounders, the Grizzlies were outrebounded 13-8 in the first quarter, but recovered in the second quarter to outrebound the Trail Blazers 12-5. The Grizzlies used a 9-0 run early in the second quarter to take a 38-32 lead, only to watch Portland match the run late in the quarter. Back-to-back baskets by Gay in the final minute allowed the Grizzlies to go up by three. NOTES -- Randolph had played in each of the team's 29 games before missing Friday night's game. Randolph ranks second in the NBA with a 12.3 rebounding average and he leads the league with 22 double-doubles. ... Speights, Randolph's replacement in the starting lineup, was averaging 6.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game before Friday. ... Reserve guard Jerryd Bayless, who sprained his left ankle in Wednesday's 93-83 win at Boston, returned to action. Bayless was injured early in the game at Boston and his absence forced point guard Mike Conley to play a season-high 44 minutes. ... Former University of Memphis star Will Barton, in his rookie season with the Trail Blazers, entered the game to a warm applause in the first half and scored four points. ... Gasol tied a franchise record with eight blocks, including six in the first quarter.
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