CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies are on top of the NBA for the first time in the franchise's 17-year history, and they showed why Saturday night.
Mike Conley scored 20 points and the Grizzlies beat the Charlotte Bobcats 94-87 for their eighth consecutive victory.
Zach Randolph added 18 points and 12 rebounds, and three other players scored in double figures for the Grizzlies, who own the league's best record at 8-1. Rudy Gay had 16 points and Marc Gasol and Tony Allen scored 12 apiece.
"I think these last two games have really distinguished what kind of personality this team has right now," Conley said. "We're really playing together as a team."
Byron Mullens scored 18 points and Kemba Walker added 17 for the Bobcats, who cut the Grizzlies' lead to five points three times in the final period, the last at 92-87 on Bismack Biyombo's dunk with 13 seconds remaining.
Charlotte had won three straight.
"You have to give them credit — they are a very good team and their record shows it," Mullens said.
In its last three games, Memphis has double-digit wins over the defending NBA champion Miami Heat, the Oklahoma City Thunder, last year's Western Conference champs; and the New York Knicks, formerly the league's only undefeated team.
Saturday's game was particularly tough on Memphis, which had a late finish to its nationally televised game against the Knicks on Friday night. The Grizzlies' flight didn't arrive in Charlotte until early Saturday morning.
"We had a tough game last night, and then to get in here at four in the morning and battle a young, pesky team that's improving is a testament to our mental toughness," Memphis coach Lionel Hollings said.
"We've been playing extremely well and defending as a team. That was the key to us winning tonight. We were tired out there, but we got the win. We passed and we defended."
The pesky Bobcats committed 18 turnovers and shot 37.6 percent from the field, but managed to battle back from a 17-point deficit and give Memphis problems down the stretch.
The Grizzlies increased a nine-point halftime lead to 77-60 on Randolph's layup with 10:52 remaining in the fourth quarter. But Walker scored 11 consecutive points over the next 3½ minutes to get the Bobcats back in the game. His layup with 6:54 left got Charlotte within six at 77-71.
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