The Minnesota Timberwolves travel to Memphis tonight to face the Grizzlies, who are vying for a playoff birth in the Western Conference. The Wolves will be without Kevin Love, who is out again with a strained left groin. Center Darko Milicic is also out with a strained left ankle.
Both teams shot well early, with the Grizzlie’s Zach Randolph leading the way with 9 points on 3-4 shooting from the field. Wolves forward Michael Beasley’s dunk with 1:22 to play in the first quarter cut the lead to 25-19. Beasley has had to play a major role on offense since Love has been injured. He has done a decent job but since he is the only main offense weapon for the Wolves in these last stretch of games, his shooting percentages have been low since defenses are able to pay more attention to him. After one quarter, the Grizzlies led 29-20.
Turnovers continue to plague the Wolves as the Wolves had seven turnovers heading into the second quarter. After Wolves guard Johnny Flynn’s second turnover led to a corner three-pointer by Grizzlies reserve Shane Battier, the Grizzlies opened up their biggest lead of the night at 39-22 with 8:40 left in the second quarter. The Wolves have led the league in turnovers all-season. Ball control and a point guard that can lead this young team should be one of the main priorities for the Wolves next season and it may come in the answer of Spanish sensation Ricky Rubio. Randolph continued to impress in the second quarter; scoring on a variety of different ways. His lay-up with an assist from teammate Mike Conley gave him 16 points for the half. Randolph has really done an amazing job and leading the Grizzlies since All-Star Rudy Gay’s shoulder injury. Wolves guard Luke Ridnour’s 15 foot jumper before the half cut the Grizzlies lead to 56-44 at halftime.
Beasley’s three-pointer at the top of the key helped cut the Grizzlies lead to 65-53 with 7 minutes left in the third quarter. The Grizzlies answered with a 6-0 run capped off by a 15 foot jump shot made by guard O.J. Mayo. Ridnour’s 25 foot three point shot before the end of the third quarter cut the deficit to 73-64.
Wolves reserve Anthony Randolph continued the turnover trend on two consecutive possessions to start the fourth quarter. You can tell Randolph has been pressing since Coach Kurt Rambis has not been giving him extensive minutes in the last few games. With the season out of reach and Love not playing, I do not understand why Rambis does not play Randolph more minutes. It is a similar trend to last year when Rambis believed Love would be more efficient as a sixth man. Randolph needs extensive minutes for the last six games to see where he fits into the Wolves off-season plan for next season. Wolves reserve Anthony Tolliver’s three-pointer helped cut the lead to 84-77. But the Grizzlies responded with a 17-6 run of their own after guard Tony Allen’s lay-up to put the game out of reach. The Grizzlies defeated the Wolves wire-to-wire 106-89.
The Grizzlies were led by Zach Randolph’s 22 points and 8 rebounds on 9-14 shooting. O.J. Mayo came off the bench to score 20 points. For the Wolves, Michael Beasley had 20 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
It was another disappointing loss for the Wolves tonight against a hungry Grizzlies team searching for a playoff spot. The Wolves will travel to New Jersey to face Deron Williams and the Nets on Tuesday night
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Written by Phil Aguila