MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies are busy learning how to deal with success.
Sure, Memphis has been a good team reaching the playoffs the previous two seasons and even played in the Western Conference semifinals in 2011. The Grizzlies followed that up with their best winning percentage in last year's lockout-shortened season.
But their sizzling 12-2 start this season ratcheted up expectations enough that not even the Grizzlies' best record through 41 games and fourth in the West seems to be enough now.
"I think for certain outside the team, but somewhat inside the team as well," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said about the expectations. "I've had conversations with our group to remember who we are, when we were fortunate to get off to a good start and everyone was ranting and raving. But we're still the same team. We struggle to shoot at times and struggle to score at times."
That the Grizzlies certainly do.
They beat the Lakers 106-93 on Wednesday night, just the 12th time they've scored at least 100 points this season and eight of those came during the 12-2 start. The good thing is their defense is so good that they are undefeated in those games because the Grizzlies rank second in the NBA giving up an average of 89.5 points per game.
Memphis now has held 37 of 41 opponents under 100 points this season, best in the NBA. That puts the Grizzlies on target to become the first team to hold opponents to a scoring average below 90 points over a season since 2005-06 when they did it (88.5) along with the San Antonio Spurs (88.8).
The Grizzlies also rank second in the NBA averaging 9.2 steals and forcing 16.2 turnovers.
Offensively is where they've been challenged most. They went into the game with the Lakers ranked 28th in the league averaging 92.9 points per game and just went through a six-game stretch where they didn't score more than 85 points in any of those games.
Center Marc Gasol said the challenge is teams know what the Grizzlies like to do with offensively getting the ball down low to himself and Zach Randolph, who has an NBA-best 27 double-doubles averaging 16.1 points and 11.6 rebounds, or over to Rudy Gay.
"We just have to play through it and find the other side of the court, move the ball better and get moving," Gasol said.
Point guard Mike Conley said the Grizzlies have faced an adjustment since that strong start.