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 Grizzlies beat Thunder for first back-to-back wins

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PostSubject: Grizzlies beat Thunder for first back-to-back wins   Thu Dec 11, 2008 4:47 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY(AP) With high-scoring rookie
O.J. Mayo in the mix, backup Mike Conley rarely gets a chance to shine
for the Memphis Grizzlies. When he got one, he made the most of it.Rudy
Gay had 22 points, and Conley scored 14 of his season-high 16 points in
fourth quarter to help the Grizzlies beat the Oklahoma City Thunder
108-102 on Wednesday night for their first winning streak of the season.Mayo,
the NBA's highest-scoring rookie and the team's leading scorer, went to
the bench late in the third quarter with four fouls and his backup
never let him get back on the floor.Memphis trailed most of the
way until Conley, a second-year point guard out of Ohio State, started
carving his way into the lane repeatedly."It was a big step, a
huge step, because not too many times have I been the one to have the
ball in my hands and be (isolated) and things like that,'' Conley said.
"That was a different kind of game for me, so I just tried to take
advantage of it as best I could.''Conley credited coach Marc
Iavaroni and his staff for trusting him and three other backups who
joined Gay on the court for the fourth quarter."They ran a lot
of plays for me, tried to get me in the paint and create a lot of shots
for people and for myself,'' Conley said. "I think that really opened
it up for everybody and it really got our momentum.''Mayo added
18 points in the first three quarters to pass Magic Johnson for the
third longest streak of double-figure scoring games to start a career
at 22. Only Dan Issel (27) and Bobby Jones (24), who played for the
Denver Nuggets in the franchise's first season in the NBA in 1976, had
longer streaks.Kevin Durant scored 28 points, Russell Westbrook
added 15 and Jeff Green had 13 for Oklahoma City, which got one of its
league-low two wins at Memphis on Nov. 29. Desmond Mason, Nick Collison
and Joe Smith also scored 10 apiece."It's the most miserable
season I've ever been a part of: 2-21. It's tough,'' Collison said.
"Hopefully we start winning and things will go a lot better.''Oklahoma
City broke through its trend of slow starts and led at the end of the
first quarter for only the sixth time this season, and then started
pulling away with a 13-0 run that Green finished with a layup for a
44-25 lead with 6:41 to go before halftime.Collison stretched the lead to 21 with a two-handed jam off a pass from Westbrook."If
we were able to continue playing like that and continue to get stops
like that, obviously things would have been different,'' Collison said.
"So, I guess we are showing signs, but until we do it consistently and
win a game, it's not going to matter much.''But then the
Grizzlies, who missed 21 of their first 29 shots, roared back with nine
straight points and finished the half on an 18-4 run to get to 55-48.Memphis
finally went ahead for the first time since the opening 2 minutes when
Hakim Warrick scored from the left block with 9:05 left for an 87-85
lead. The teams then swapped the lead three more times before Conley
cut into the lane for a layup that made it 95-94 and started a string
of six straight points for the Grizzlies.Iavaroni, who has been shuffling his lineup lately anyway, decided to stick with his four backups."It's
all about energy and it's what you feel out there, and the guys on this
team are mature enough to understand that I'm not keeping people off
the court necessarily as I am keeping people on the court,'' Iavaroni
said."That's what keeps people on the court: playing hard and
smart together. And I'll ride it as long as I can until it needs a
change.''Mayo, who was averaging 21 points, remained on the
bench with a towel draped around his shoulders even after Westbrook hit
two free throws to get Oklahoma City back within 99-98. Instead, it was
Conley, Gay, Quinton Ross, Marc Gasol and Greg Buckner who were on the
court to score nine of the next 11 points and put the game away."It
means a lot to me as a player because you don't get too many chances.
You've got to be able to establish yourself sometime,'' Conley said.
"To come in in the fourth quarter and make big plays is always a big
deal for young players. It was a great opportunity for me and I'm glad
I was in the game.''Notes: The Grizzlies regained the
first-round pick they had traded to Washington last year with a
three-team trade that sent backup G Javaris Crittenton to the Wizards
and a conditional second-round pick to New Orleans. ... Thunder F Chris
Wilcox dislocated his left ring finger midway through the first quarter
and did not return. ... Thunder F Joe Smith, who broke his nose in the
preseason, played for the first time this season without a clear,
protective mask on his face. ... Oklahoma City's 21-point lead was its
largest of the season, surpassing a 16-point lead in a loss to Phoenix
on Nov. 25.

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