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Reply To: NBA • Saturday Service Plays • 1/23/16

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Preview: Memphis At Minnesota

When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, January 23, 2016
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Memphis Grizzlies are winners of four straight, and all they have to do to make it five in a row is keep the game within 20 points heading into the fourth quarter on Friday. The Minnesota Timberwolves, who host the Grizzlies on Saturday, are becoming accustomed to surrendering double-digit leads in the fourth quarter and have dropped 11 of their last 12 games.

Minnesota was outscored 32-10 in the final seven minutes of regulation and overtime on Wednesday to suffer a 106-94 loss at Dallas, one night after letting a 17-point lead slip away in a 114-99 loss at New Orleans. “My young guys, they’re going to learn how to win these games,” Timberwolves interim coach Sam Mitchell told reporters. “The ball is in their hands at the end of the game. They’re going to learn to make plays.” The Grizzlies have far more veterans on the roster and are executing at the end of games like a veteran team should of late. Memphis squeezed out a 102-101 victory at Denver on Thursday and three of its last four victories have come by two points or fewer.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN Southeast (Memphis), FSN North (Minnesota)

ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES (25-19): Memphis’ recent run of strong play has coincided with an offensive resurgence from center Marc Gasol, whose three-point play with 12.2 seconds left on Thursday provided the go-ahead score. The Spanish veteran is averaging 24.8 points in the last four games and totaled 27 points, six rebounds and three blocks against the Nuggets. Gasol is trying to be more aggressive on offense and attempted at least eight free throws in each of the last three games.

ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (13-31): Mitchell is dealing with the growing pains involved with such a young roster and feels like his team is getting closer to being able to close out leads. “I’m encouraged. We keep giving ourselves a chance,” Mitchell told reporters. “That’s what you want. You’ve got to knock on the door before it opens. You’ve got to keep kicking at that wall until it collapses. Last year we didn’t even know how to knock on the door.” Last year the team also didn’t have rookie center Karl-Anthony Towns, who collected 27 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks against the Mavericks on Wednesday.


1. Grizzlies PG Mike Conley is averaging 17.5 points in two games since returning from an Achilles injury.

2. Timberwolves F Shabazz Muhammad is averaging 13.3 points in the last four games.

3. Memphis has taken five of the last seven in the series, including a 114-106 win at Minnesota on Nov. 15.

PREDICTION: Grizzlies 106, Timberwolves 92