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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Grizzlies survive scare with win over Bobcats


CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — The Memphis Grizzlies needed a spark late and Mike Conley provided it.

News photo
Takeoff: The Grizzlies' Rudy Gay goes up for a dunk against the Bobcats in front of teammate Tony Allen on Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina. Memphis won 85-80. AP

Conley scored nine of his team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter and the Grizzlies came alive defensively, hanging on to beat the Charlotte Bobcats 85-80 on Friday night and avoiding a humiliating loss to the worst team in the league.

The win assures the Grizzlies no worse than the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a shot to still move up to fourth.

The Grizzlies overcame an eight-point fourth-quarter deficit and a career-high-tying 32-point effort from Gerald Henderson of the Bobcats, who extended the franchise record with their 19th straight loss.

Conley admits it was "much tougher" than expected.

"We knew they were playing for pride and we've been in that situation on the opposite end and we knew we were going to get their best effort," Conley said.

For the Bobcats (7-55), the misery continues.

On the 25-year anniversary of Michael Jordan scoring a NBA playoff-record 63 points against the Boston Celtics, the team Jordan now owns took a step closer toward cementing a dubious spot in league history. If the Bobcats lose their final four games they will finish with the worst winning percentage in NBA history.

"Everyone knows what we're playing for," Henderson said. "We don't want to set that record. There was a little more sense of urgency in our play tonight."

Conley credited the win to the team's defense in the fourth quarter that forced seven turnovers.

Henderson's 3-pointer got the Bobcats within three points with 20 seconds left, but he turned the ball over in the lane with 10.8 seconds left on the next possession. Conley was immediately fouled and hit two free throws the seal the victory.

"We gave it away," Henderson said. "We had some possessions where they just took the ball from us. That led to some fast break dunks. You know, against a team like that, you have to execute on offense and you can't give them easy buckets coming down the stretch."

Said Conley: "Defensively we put a lot of pressure on them and made them take tough shots down the stretch."

Cavaliers 98, Knicks 90

In Cleveland, Amare Stoudemire's return from a back injury didn't help playoff-bound New York.

Stoudemire had missed the previous 13 games with a bulging disk, but even with him in the lineup, the Knicks couldn't handle the Cavs, who snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the fourth time in 19 games.

Hawks 97, Celtics 92

In Atlanta, Joe Johnson scored 30 points, and the Hawks edged short-handed Boston to take a step toward landing homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The Hawks (38-25) are in line to be the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, and Celtics (37-27) are on track to be No. 5. This, however, looked nothing like a playoff game early.

Mavericks 104, Warriors 94

In Dallas, Vince Carter had 19 points, including eight straight for the Mavericks early in the fourth quarter.

Carter's personal streak ended when he had an assist on Jason Terry's breakaway 3-pointer that stretched Dallas' lead to 87-75 with 9 minutes left.

Spurs 121, Lakers 97

In San Antonio, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all scored at least 20 points to help the Spurs spoil Kobe Bryant's return.

Bryant had missed the previous seven games with a bruised left shin, and the Lakers went 5-2 without the NBA's scoring leader. Bryant scored 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting.

Thunder 103, Kings 92

In Sacramento, Kevin Durant had 29 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists to lead Oklahoma City.

The Thunder took the lead for good midway through the first quarter and went on to their second consecutive victory and fourth in five games.

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