Sunday, January 30, 2005

Grizzlies fight off the hawks

A 20-hour trip and late arrival didn't take the fight out of the Atlanta Hawks.

The Hawks made their way through a winter storm to get to Memphis, but played hard for 48 minutes once they did before the Grizzlies escaped with an 84-83 victory Saturday night.

``It was an unbelievable effort,'' Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. ``We came in and fought from beginning to end. ... I would loved to have seen us come out of here with a win.''

The Hawks were stranded in Atlanta overnight as icy conditions prevented them from flying out after Friday's loss to Miami. The team arrived at the FedExForum with a police escort about 90 minutes before the 8 p.m. CST tip-off-- an hour later than originally scheduled.

Jason Williams scored 23 points and had eight assists, while Mike Miller added 21 points to lead the Grizzlies.

Tyronn Lue's fall-away 10-footer at the horn for Atlanta bounced off the rim, sending the Hawks to their fourth straight loss.

``We had a chance to win that game,'' Lue said. ``We tried to go inside to Al (Harrington), but they switched to a different front, and we couldn't get it in like we wanted to, so we had to attack the basket.''

Despite the extended travel, Atlanta had enough energy to build a third-quarter lead and hold an advantage until a 3 by Miller and a jumper by Williams in the final 2:03 gave Memphis the lead for good.

``That three that Miller hit, I mean with the clock going down, that was a big shot,'' Woodson said.

Shane Battier finished with 15 for Memphis, which has won seven of its last nine.

Harrington led the Hawks with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Lue and Antoine Walker had 17 points each. Tony Delk scored 15 off the bench.

Memphis players sensed the long trip may have given the Hawks a boost, instead of worn them out.

``They are going to come out and try to prove something,'' Miller said. ``It was one of the slugfests really. The bottom line is we got the win.''

The Grizzlies were effective early with a fast-paced transition game, but seemed to abandon the strategy, settling for jumpers with less success. That, coupled with poor ball-handling and ineffective half-court offense, provided the Hawks with a seven-point lead early in the final period.

Memphis, playing without injured forwards Pau Gasol and James Posey, shot 62 percent in the first quarter, and had 18-2 scoring advantage in the paint. The Grizzlies led 27-19 after the first quarter.

Delk and Josh Smith, who finished with 10 points, led a Hawks' second-quarter rally. Delk hit three 3-pointers, and Smith connected on three straight Atlanta buckets, including a thunderous dunk. Another Smith dunk near the end of the quarter tied the game 46.

Memphis still couldn't shake the Hawks through the third, and Atlanta closed the quarter with five straight points for a 69-64 lead entering the fourth.

Atlanta managed just 14 points in the fourth quarter.

``We didn't have as good a defense in the second or third, but in the fourth we stepped it up,'' Memphis coach Mike Fratello said. ``We had two turnovers there toward the end but were fortunate to escape without any damage.''

With 2 big scoring guys on the IL, this game would definatley be a hard fought victory.Both Posey(who was put on the IL right before the game) and Gasol were out, but Jason Williams stepped up and led us too a close victory. We are slowly climbing up, but we need more wins, and faster. Lets keep up the good work guys!

Saturday, January 22, 2005

4 Game Streak is Broken...

Darting through the lane, dipping past defenders, Earl Boykins was a blur on the hardwood.

The NBA's smallest player had 25 points and a season-high 10 assists to lift the Denver Nuggets to a 92-82 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.

This performance came on the heels of Tuesday's win over Seattle in which the 5-foot-5 guard set a league record with 15 points in overtime. It never got that close this time around.

``I'm surprised every time he steps out on the court,'' Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin said. ``A guy that size. The things he can do. He's got the heart of a lion. It just shows that when your heart's that big and you care that much about playing the game, good things will happen to you.''

Denver snapped Memphis' four-game winning streak and gave interim coach Michael Cooper the first winning streak of his own since taking over the team on Dec. 31. The Nuggets, who have struggled all season, pulled within four games of Memphis for eighth place in the Western Conference -- and the last playoff spot -- with the midpoint of the season close at hand.

Lorenzen Wright scored 17 points and former Nugget James Posey had 15 on five 3-pointers for the Grizzlies, who lost for just the second time in 12 games and only the eighth time in the 25 games since Mike Fratello took over for Hubie Brown as coach.

Memphis played just hours after the sudden death of play-by-play voice Don Poier, 53, who had been calling games for the franchise since its conception in Vancouver in 1995.

``I can't say that the news today affected us,'' Fratello said. ``We had a job to do tonight. We have to sharpen our play.''

Like Boykins, Marcus Camby had a second-consecutive big game, finishing with 18 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots after a 25-point, 24-rebound night against the Sonics. That helped the Nuggets win easily without Carmelo Anthony, who sat out after hurting his right ankle Tuesday.

Since Anthony went out in the third quarter of that game, the Nuggets have played better, cutting and moving on offense, pushing the ball when they can and playing more aggressively everywhere on the court. The results on this night were telling: Denver shot 49 percent and outrebounded Memphis 49-24.

A lot of the Denver rebounds resulted in a quick outlet pass to Boykins or Andre Miller, who pushed the pace and helped the Nuggets find easy shots. Miller finished with 14 points and six assists.

``We want to do that all the time,'' Cooper said of the rebound-and-run method. ``Now, they see we're successful when the ball is in Earl's and Andre's hands. Those guys are capable and willing to pass the basketball.''

Fittingly, though, it was a shot by Boykins that essentially sealed this game. Pounding the dribble, Boykins took one big step into the lane, got his defender back on his heels, then stepped back himself for a fadeaway 16-foot jumper. It gave Denver an 87-74 lead with 3:54 left and marked the start of garbage time.

``I feel I shouldn't miss an open shot and I shouldn't turn over the ball,'' Boykins said. ``Slowly but surely, Coop is changing our offense. We're running different plays each game and that makes it tough to scout us.''

Martin returned from missing a game with strep throat and had 13 points and eight rebounds. Martin reared back as if to punch Pao Gasol (eight points, four rebounds) after a hard foul early in the fourth quarter, but the two didn't come to blows and it was nothing like the scene last Friday night when Nene got into a fight with Michael Olowokandi of the Timberwolves.

``K-Mart is a lot like Shaq in that people want to foul him because they know he's a questionable free-throw shooter,'' Cooper said. ``His reaction was great. He knows he's going to get the hard fouls. He bites the bullet and walks away from it.''

Nene missed his third game of a four-game suspension due to the fight.

Gasol really didn't bring his best stuff to the game, and it really showed. He had 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. However, Lorenzen Wright had a great game, but not good enough. This game brought a bad end to our streak in this disappointing loss. Lets hope Gasol brings his "A" game to the court against the Jazz. Start a new streak Grizzlies!