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Free At Last: Grizzlies Finally Beat Hornets 104-100

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Before last night the Hornets had just beaten the Grizzlies in both their games this season, but the Grizzlies are officially off the snide.

This game was yet another thriller between the Southwest rivals, with the score tight practically the entire way. It wasn't a normal Grizzlies game, though, as Rudy Gay got just 11 shots (for 15 points but 6 assists) and O.J. Mayo continued his second half struggles (5-13, 13 points, 3-7 from the free throw line). Instead Mike Conley was the unlikely hero, scoring 26 points with 7 assists and 5 steals.

Of course Zach Randolph (23 points, 11 boards) and Marc Gasol (12 points, 10 boards) both kept their consistent pace despite facing a solid Hornets frontcourt in All-Star David West and defensive stud Emeka Okafor. And the bench also kept up its slightly better play, combining for 15 points.

The real reason the Grizz picked up this win was because of near picture-perfect final minute execution (and a 29 foot 3-point banker from Z-Bo), though, as the fantastically interesting blog NBA Playbook recounts:

With around 30 seconds left, the Grizzlies and the Hornets were in a tight game. The Grizzlies were up by 1 point with the ball on the side. They were able to execute, meanwhile, the Hornets who got the ball down 3 were unable to. That turned out to be the ballgame. 

- (note: hit the link, the value of NBA Playbook isn't their quotables, but their frame-by-frame breakdowns.)

Winning last night means that the Grizzlies pass the Hornets in the standings, moving into the dreaded 9 seed and 4.5 games behind Portland and San Antonio. After this win the Grizzlies playoff dreams aren't dead, though the post-season remains a long-shot.