Surging Grizzlies look to extend streak vs. Timberwolves
The Memphis Grizzlies look to extend their season-best winning streak to four games when they attempt to complete a two-game sweep of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night at Minneapolis.
Memphis recorded a 118-107 victory over the Timberwolves on Wednesday in the first of the back-to-back. The Grizzles set a franchise-record with 80 points in the paint.
Big man Jonas Valanciunas was the main cog in the interior with season highs of 24 points and 16 rebounds.
"One thing we talk about is getting downhill, getting a piece of the paint in a variety of ways and with a variety of different players," Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. "We've got a lot of guys that can really finish in the paint. That's our M.O. and we know if we can do that, that eventually opens up more looks from the outside that we shoot with confidence."
Memphis is averaging 111.3 points during the winning streak after averaging 92 during a three-game skid that preceded the solid stretch.
Dillon Brooks scored 24 and 21 points during the first two victories before struggling with a 4-of-15 shooting performance and matching his season low with nine points against Minnesota.
However, Memphis reserves combined for 50 points with Grayson Allen (20 points), De'Anthony Melton (15) and Xavier Tillman (12) all establishing season scoring highs.
"It's always been next man up," Allen said. "We just have a bunch of hoopers on this team. It makes it easy to just get different groups in there and just play. We've got a bunch of guys playing the right way, it makes it easy."
Getting a strong effort from the bench has been even more important with star point guard Ja Morant (ankle) out for approximately three weeks.
Minnesota has been ailing most of the season and enters the rematch with eight setbacks in the past nine games.
The Timberwolves led by 10 points entering the fourth quarter on Wednesday before collapsing and being outscored 38-17 over the final 12 minutes.
Star center Karl-Anthony Towns was highly irritated after the defeat.
"It's very frustrating, to say the least," Towns said. "I'm more disappointed with our discipline than our effort. We've got to do better than that in the fourth quarter. We can't have three quarters and be up by 10 and be 'Cool,' like that's now how this NBA works. ...
"But it's the NBA -- No Boys Allowed -- so we've got to be grown ... men and be ready for the next one."
Malik Beasley (28 points), Towns (25 points, 14 rebounds) and D'Angelo Russell (25 points, eight assists) all had solid performances on Wednesday.
But Russell didn't want to hear any chatter about individual performances.
"That's irrelevant. We lost," Russell said. "... We stopped scoring points in the fourth. It's that simple. Stopped getting stops. Stopped scoring."
Beasley is averaging 27 points over the past three games while Towns has produced double-doubles in all four games he has played. He has missed games with an injured wrist.
Russell has tallied 25 or more points in four of the past five games and is averaging 25.4 points during the stretch.
No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards has disappeared over the last two games after reaching double digits in eight of his first nine NBA games. Edwards has two points on 1-for-14 shooting over the last two contests.
Defense has been a continual problem for the Timberwolves, who rank 27th in points allowed (118.7) entering Thursday's play. Minnesota has held just one opponent under 100 points and has given up more than 120 in seven consecutive games during one stretch.
The Timberwolves have also lost four straight against the Grizzlies.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 14, 2021