Grizzlies top Timberwolves, 94-90, for 5th win in a row; Mike Conley injured?

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

Zach Randolph and Kevin Love had quite the duel tonight, with Z-Bo recording 26 and 12 against Love's 28 and 16. The Grizzlies were able to pull off the win for their fifth in a row, but Mike Conley went down in the process. Yikes.



The most important takeaway from tonight is that Mike Conley was taken out of the game midway through the fourth quarter with what looked like a painful injury to his leg or ankle. We don't have updates yet, but hopefully it's not serious.

That aside, the Memphis Grizzlies were able to pull off the win against the Minnesota Timberwolves, with a final score of 94-90. They looked great to start the game, and while they faltered a bit in the middle quarters, we were treated to a great game between some great big men. Kevin Love took over the second half of the game, recording 28 points and 16 rebounds. Zach Randolph wasn't conceding anything easily however, with 26 points and 12 rebounds himself.

The Grizzlies got off to a great start, leading the Wolves 19-10 with 5:58 remaining in the first quarter. Marc Gasol looked spry and active, and Courtney Lee was getting some great looks. The two scored 9 each in the quarter, and there was plenty of motion for the offense overall in what was a strong showing out of the gates. The team shot 63.6% from the field and led Minnesota (who shot 50.0% themselves) 30-22 after the first. Kevin Martin was creating wonderfully with 10 points in the first, but the Grizzlies were able to limit the rest of the Wolves by challenging them inside and putting Marc Gasol on Kevin Love.

Things got even better for the Grizz in the second quarter, as the Timberwolves unraveled when their bench came in. The Grizzlies quickly claimed a double-digit lead and held it for most of the quarter, with the Wolves unable to get anything sustainable going on offense. Their offense was uncoordinated and committed seven turnovers. Even when they held on to the ball, they could only muster 35.0% shooting from the field. Kevin Martin took only one shot in the quarter and missed it.

That said, the Grizzlies weren't able to keep up their torrid shooting either. Gorgui Dieng had some great defensive moments, and the Grizzlies were only able to shoot 36.4% themselves. Zach Randolph proved nearly impossible for the Wolves to contain down low, especially when they were going with the Dieng and Dante Cunningham frontcourt. Love put up much more a fight defensively, but Z-Bo was in a groove by then. Not many other players helped him out in the quarter, however. Conley and Gasol combined to shoot 1-for-8, and more than anything else, the Wolves' seven turnovers were what kept them down.

The script flipped after halftime, as the Wolves outscored the Grizzlies 30-16 in the third. What happened? Well, Kevin Love BLEW UP and scored 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting to go with three three-pointers. He had the full offensive game on show, with makes at the rim, from midrange and beyond the arc. The Grizzlies could've done a better job of staying on him, but he was in the zone and moving with a clear purpose.

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It was a comeback effort in full as the Grizzlies were once again suppressed on offense. Conley continued to miss shots that were hittable, going 0-for-3 in the quarter. Marc Gasol looked non-aggressive, and Zach Randolph didn't get the ball enough to make the impact he did in the second. By the end of the third, the Grizzlies had actually given up the lead and trailed the Wolves 67-66.

It was tight for most of the fourth quarter, with the Wolves bench making a reappearance that went much better for them than their second quarter performance. Having been very quietly consistent on offense for most of the night, Dante Cunningham provided a bit of a spark on offense with a few makes, including a very loud dunk. J.J. Barea turned his own struggles around and made a pair of back-to-back threes.

It was after a Cunningham basket that the Conley injury occurred. He collided with Barea, and was down in visible pain quickly. It looked like to me like Conley just had a really nasty ankle sprain, but some on Twitter saw it as a leg injury. Following the commercial break, Conley was carried out of the game and didn't look like he was hurting quite as much as when the injury happened. I'll take that as a possible good sign, especially the fact that he wasn't carried out right away. Still, we'll be anxiously waiting for further details and hoping for the best.

The Conley injury seemed to take away some of the oomph from the rest of the game, but as has been a constant theme with the Timberwolves' season thus far, their play fell off a cliff near the end of the game. Kevin Love stopped making shots, with three open misses (two of them threes) in the closing moments of the game. On the other end, Zach Randolph created some huge points out of post-up isolations and Tayshaun Prince hit the dagger with a made three when he found himself all alone in the corner. After the Prince make, the Grizzlies were up by six with a 59 seconds left to go. Minny might've had a chance if they executed sharply, but they didn't manage the clock well and missed a few solid chances.

So, the Grizzlies win again, making it five Ws in a row and 10 of their last 11. If the Dallas Mavericks lose their ongoing game against the Sacramento Kings, the Grizzlies will finally be back in the playoff picture as the eighth seed in the conference at the end of the night. (Update: the Mavs won, but this win still kept the Grizzlies from falling to tenth behind the Wolves anyway.)

It's a bittersweet win with the scare of Conley's injury. Hopefully he'll be okay, and the Grizzlies can stretch out the good things of January into February as well. Tomorrow, the Grizzlies see the Milwaukee Bucks. It'll be the Grizzlies' fourth game in five nights, but the Bucks won just one game of their 15 games in February so it's not a particularly imposing matchup. Maybe the Grizzlies can make it six in a row!

(Random note that I didn't really find a place to include and could be of interest: Both Kosta Koufos and Jon Leuer were DNP-CDs tonight. The starters played heavy minutes in this game and Ed Davis saw just 14 minutes too, but given the way Koufos and Leuer's minutes have trended in January, I'd keep an eye on this.)

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