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Blazers escape Memphis with tight win
Memphis, TN (Sports Network) - J.J. Hickson registered his 19th double-double of the season with 19 points and 11 rebounds as the Portland Trail Blazers escaped with an 86-84 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday at FedEx Forum.
Wesley Matthews shot 8-of-14 from the floor for a team-high 21 points, while LaMarcus Aldridge added 15 points and 12 boards for the Blazers, who have won three of their last four.
Damian Lillard contributed 11 points and eight assists, and Nicolas Batum gave 11 points, five rebounds and four assists in the victory.
"I think there is a belief that when we are in close games, we're going to find a way to win," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.
Marreese Speights scored a game-high 22 points and ripped down 13 rebounds, while Marc Gasol netted 12 points to go with six rebounds and eight blocks for the Grizzlies, who were coming off a 10-point win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.
"If you can't make buckets, you can't score," Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins said. "We just didn't make anything. That happens sometimes. Struggles are struggles."
Rudy Gay dropped 19 points and snatched nine rebounds, but missed the potential game-tying shot at the buzzer.
Trailing 80-79 with 4:29 to play, Hickson split a pair at the foul line to tie the game at 80 before Batum gave the visitors an 83-80 advantage when he buried a trey with 3:27 on the clock.
Gay nailed a jumper on the hosts' next possession to make it 83-82, but Hickson made a pair of free throws with 2:01 left to extend the lead to 85-82.
On the Grizzlies' next trip down the floor, Mike Conley and Speights combined to miss five times from in close before Batum finally grabbed the rebound with 1:28 to play.
Speights hit a pair from the stripe before Hickson made 1-of-2 for an 86-84 lead with 2.1 ticks remaining.
On the game's final play, Gay rolled off a screen and caught the inbound pass just inside the arc, but his jumper at the buzzer hit off back iron, securing the win for Portland.
"Our will and grittiness helped us get this win," Stotts continued. "We definitely had to grind it out."
After a tightly played first quarter which featured eight lead changes and three ties, Memphis held a slim 25-24 lead courtesy of a Gasol jumper at the horn.
Conley put home a driving layup early in the second quarter to ignite the Grizzlies on a quick 7-0 spurt. Wayne Ellington buried a trey, then capped the flurry with a layup to put the hosts up 38-32 with 6:13 to play before halftime.
Memphis' lead grew to eight when Gay scored on a turnaround jumper with 3:26 remaining in the half, but the Blazers responded with the next nine straight points to go in front, 47-46.
Gay finished the half with a layup for the Grizzlies, who led 50-47 at the break.
Neither team could create significant space in the third quarter, which produced three lead changes and five ties. Matthews nailed an 11-footer with 35.9 left in the frame to give the visitors a 72-70 lead, but Ellington made a pair from the line to send the game to the final 12 minutes tied at 72.
The Trail Blazers improved to 14-4 in their last 18 games against the Grizzlies ... Grizzlies big man Zach Randolph missed the game due to illness ... Memphis is 0-6 this year in games decided by five points or less, while Portland is 8-2 in games decided by six or less ... Gasol's eight blocks matched a franchise record for most blocks in a single game ... The game featured 21 lead changes and nine ties.
01/05 02:26:49 ET
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