Portland Trail Blazers center Meyers Leonard, left, hits Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph in the head as he fouls him on a rebound during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, April 3, 2013.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)
Thursday, April 04, 2013 1:11 am
Conley has 20 and Grizzles defeat Blazers 94-76
By ANNE M. PETERSONAP Sports Writer
With four straight wins, Memphis improved to 51-24, surpassing its 50-win season in 2003-04. The Grizzlies have already clinched a spot in the playoffs and are jockeying for home-court advantage in the first round.
Former Blazer Zach Randolph, who played his first six seasons in Portland from 2001-07, added 17 points and eight rebounds for Memphis.
The Blazers, who are effectively out of the playoffs with seven games left, were without two starters, LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum. As a result, the team started rookies Victor Claver, Meyers Leonard and Damian Lillard.
Memphis took advantage and led by as many as 18 points in the first half. Portland (33-42) got within single digits midway through the third quarter, but could not catch up.
Lillard and J.J. Hickson led the Blazers with 17 points apiece.
The Grizzlies were without rookie guard Tony Wroten because of a migraine. But earlier in the day, Memphis announced that it had signed 12-year veteran Keyon Dooling to add depth to the roster for the playoffs.
Dooling retired last September after playing for the Boston Celtics last season. Over his career, Dooling has averaged 7.0 points, 1.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists. He played the final 1 minute, 55 seconds and missed on a 3-point attempt with 37 seconds left.
Aldridge was missing his fourth straight game because of a sprained right ankle. The two-time All-Star is averaging 21 points and 8.9 rebounds this season.
Batum has a labral tear in his right shoulder, causing him decreased strength and sensation. He apparently sustained the injury on Monday in Portland's 112-102 loss to Utah.
The 6-foot-8 French forward, who is averaging 14.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists, will be re-evaluated on Friday before the Blazers host Houston.
Austin Daye hit a 3-pointer early in the second quarter that gave the Grizzlies a 39-23 lead. Randolph's hook shot extended it to 43-25, and Memphis took a 57-46 advantage into the half.
Notes: Former Blazers center Greg Oden was at the game because he is good friends with Conley. The two played together at Ohio State. Oden, a former No. 1 draft pick for Portland whose five-year career with the team was marred my injuries, was greeted with cheers - and a few boos - when he was shown on the video scoreboard in the first quarter. Oden did not appear to return for the second half.