Blazers blow 17-point lead, fall at Memphis
MEMPHIS Portlands playoff hopes suffered a blow Wednesday night with a 91-85 loss at Memphis.
The Grizzlies, playing without power forward Zach Randolph, rallied from a 17-point third-quarter deficit and held the Trail Blazers to 35 second-half points.
Marc Gasol collected 23 points and 12 rebounds for Memphis (40-19), which won for the 10th time in 11 games. Mike Conley added 20 points and six assists as the Grizzlies avenged an 86-84 loss at home to Portland on Jan. 4.
Damian Lillard scored 20 points and J.J. Hickson contributed 12 points and 13 rebounds for Portland (28-32).
Portland made only 11 of 39 shots from the field (.282) in the second half and was outrebounded 52-38 for the game.
The Blazers shot .541 in the first half to take a 50-38 lead to intermission, Lillard leading the way with 14 points.
Portlands lead was 63-46 midway through the third quarter, but Memphis closed with a 12-1 run to pull within 67-65 entering the final period.
A 3-pointer by ex-Blazer Jerryd Bayless gave the Grizzlies their first lead since the first quarter at 72-71 with 9:16 to play.
Portland led 82-76 with 6:13 left, but the Grizzlies scored seven in a row to go on top 83-82.
Gasols hook pushed Memphis lead to 85-82 with two minutes to go. LaMarcus Aldridge made 1 of 2 at the line to cut the margin to 85-83 with 1:15 left.
After an exchange of missed shots, Gasol sank two free throws to make it 87-83 with 21.1 seconds on the clock. Lillard answered with a driving layup with 17 seconds to go to cut the difference to 87-85.
Mike Conley hit a pair to put Memphis in front 89-85 with 16.1 seconds remaining. After a Portland miss at the other end, it was over.
Portland jumped to a 24-14 lead as Memphis started 6-for-24 from the field. The Blazers took a 26-18 advantage into the second quarter.
Victor Clavers fast-break dunk pushed Portlands edge to 36-24 with eight minutes left in the quarter, and the lead was 47-34 with 2:30 to go in the first half.
NOTES Portland continues its three-game road trip Friday night at San Antonio. The Blazers are 8-22 away from home this season. ... Memphis won despite shooting poorly .437 from the field, including 4 for 12 from 3-point range, and .611 from the foul line. Portland was worse, shooting .408 from the field, 6 for 20 on 3s and .607 at the line. ... the Blazers had won nine of its previous 11 visits to Memphis ... Randolph (ankle) sat out his second straight game. He also missed the Grizzlies loss to his former team on Jan. 4 with the flu. ... Lillard hit the 20-point mark for the 30th time this season. The next-best rookie is Washingtons Bradley Beal with 12. ... Lillard had 12 of his points in the first quarter. ...Portlands J.J. Hickson, who was 6 for 12 from the field, has shot 50 percent or better in a franchise-record 23 straight games. ... Hickson (12 points, 13 rebounds) notched his 33rd double-double of season. He ranks fourth in the NBA in that category behind Golden States David Lee (40), Randolph (35) and Orlandos Nikola Vucevic (34) ... Aldridge had 10 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for his 28th double-double, but was only 2 for 13 from the field. ... Eric Maynor scored nine of his 12 points off the Portland bench in the fourth quarter. ... Bayless had 13 points in 25 minutes off the Memphis bench. ... Portland remains four games behind No. 7 Houston (33-29) and 4 1/2 games back of No. 8 Utah (32-29) in the Western Conference. The Blazers trail the No. 9 Los Angeles Lakers (31-31) by two games and leads No. 11 Dallas (27-33) by a game.