Grizzlies hold off Cavaliers
Marc Gasol scored 22 points and the Memphis Grizzlies held off a late run for a 103-92 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.
Memphis, which strengthened its hold on the fourth spot in the Western Conference playoff race, has won 11 of 12 and is 12-4 since trading star forward Rudy Gay to Toronto on Jan. 30.
The Grizzlies’ previous victory in Cleveland came on Nov. 29, 2003, LeBron James’ rookie season with the Cavaliers.
Kyrie Irving, who missed Cleveland’s morning shootaround with flu-like symptoms, scored a team-high 24 points.
Mike Conley and Jerryd Bayless each scored 17 points and Grizzlies pulled away after the Cavaliers cut the lead to 88-84 with 5:21 to play.
Conley also had 11 assists while Bayless scored 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Memphis trailed 51-48 at halftime, but Gasol and Ed Davis combined for 18 points in the third quarter to help the Grizzlies build a double-figure lead.
Gasol scored 10 in the period while Davis, starting for the injured Zach Randolph, added eight. Memphis took a 72-61 lead with 4:22 remaining and still led 80-69 after three quarters.
Randolph, the Grizzlies’ leading scorer with a 15.7 average, missed his third straight game because of a sprained left ankle.
Irving re-entered the game with 6:31 remaining in the fourth quarter and scored a minute later on a left-handed drive to the basket, cutting the lead to 88-84. Bayless hit a 3-pointer while Conley scored on a drive and added a jumper to push the lead to 95-86.
Irving, the Cavaliers’ All-Star point guard, was listed as doubtful Friday morning. He said he began filling ill Thursday night, but felt better after going to the doctor and resting most of Friday. Irving arrived at the arena about 90 minutes before game time and said he was going to play. He was 11 of 21 from the field and had three assists in 36 minutes.
Irving was recently held out of three games to rest a hyperextended right knee. He said following Wednesday’s win over Utah that the injury was still bothering him.
Coach Byron Scott said Thursday he would consider shutting down Irving again, rather than risk him making it worse. Irving said before Friday’s game his knee was fine and he wasn’t getting shut down.
Dion Waiters, who usually starts in the backcourt with Irving, returned after missing two games with the flu that has been affecting the Cavaliers’ players and coaches. Waiters scored three points and missed all four shots in 21 minutes.
Cavaliers forward Alonzo Gee ended the first quarter by hitting a 65-foot shot at the buzzer. Gee scored 12 points while C.J. Miles had 13.
The Grizzlies had 10 players score in the first half, but none in double figures.
The game marked the first meeting between the teams since they made a trade on Jan. 22 that sent center Marreese Speights and guard Wayne Ellington to the Cavaliers for forward Jon Leuer.
Speights scored nine points while Ellington had seven. Leuer scored four points for the Grizzlies. Notes: Former Portland C Greg Oden, who hasn’t played in the NBA since 2009, attended the game. The Cavaliers are one of several teams exploring the possibility of signing the No. 1 overall pick in 2007 whose NBA career has been cut short by injuries. Oden has undergone three microfracture knee surgeries — two on his left knee. It appears unlikely he will sign with a team until the summer. Oden and Conley were teammates at Ohio State. ... Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said there’s no timetable for the return of Randolph, the league’s third-leading rebounder, averaging 11.6. Randolph hasn’t played since March 3 against Orlando. ... F Darrell Arthur missed his second straight game with neck and back soreness. He isn’t traveling with the team. ... Cavaliers G Daniel Gibson was available to play after missing Wednesday’s game with flu, but saw no action.