MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies are grinding through a tough final month of the season, trying to put themselves in position for another playoff run.
An ugly win in a physical April game sure feels a lot better when it's meaningful. Just ask the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Rudy Gay had 28 points and nine rebounds to help the Grizzlies withstand a weak start to the fourth quarter and hand the Timberwolves their 11th straight loss, 91-84 on Tuesday night.
"We've been through the bottom, being in Minnesota's position, knowing you're not going to be in the playoffs," Gay said. "We don't expect anything to happen. We don't expect to shoot our way out of it just because we're missing. We don't expect to lose. We're fighters."
The Grizzlies, who have eight straight wins over the Wolves, were 1 for 15 from the field in the final quarter until Gay's short jumper gave them the lead back at 82-81. That was 13 seconds after a questioned charging foul was called on Anthony Tolliver that wiped out a layup and a potential three-point play. Tolliver and the Timberwolves were livid.
"That one play changed everything, and you guys know what play I'm talking about," said J.J. Barea, who scored a season-high 28 points on 5-for-9 shooting from 3-point range to go with eight assists and five rebounds.
The Wolves have lost 27 straight April games, dating to 2009. They have three more tries this season to stop that streak.
"I'm disappointed for the guys. They played their tails off," said coach Rick Adelman, whose praise has been rare lately.
Zach Randolph added 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who moved within two games of the Los Angeles Clippers for fourth place in the Western Conference and crept closer toward clinching a playoff spot. Mike Conley added 16 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
"They're competitors. They're trying to get somewhere," coach Lionel Hollins said.
Gay added a putback and a dagger of a 3-pointer to make it 87-82, and out of a timeout Barea hoisted an off-target, off-balance 3-pointer that missed the rim. Wayne Ellington's reverse layup brought the Wolves back within three with 1:19 left, but that was as close as they came.
"We needed this win. We knew these teams that we're playing against have nothing to lose," Conley said. "They're giving everything they've got, and we've got to make sure we match their energy every night."