CALATH3S!!! With Conley out and Udrih hobbled, previously forgotten Nick Calathes got the start and made his presence felt early with 2 three point buckets to give the Grizzlies an early 6-0 lead. Tricky Nick added a rebound, an assist, and a steal en route to a 12-4 lead at the 6:46 mark.
After a Terry Stotts timeout, the Trail Blazers came back with more poise and attacked a Grizzlies unit still struggling to develop cohesiveness. Portland dominated the glass and flat outplayed the Beale Street Bears in the second half of the quarter, outscoring the Grizzlies 23-10 for a 27-22 Portland lead at the end of the first.
Memphis started attacking the basket to start the quarter and took a brief 28-27 lead before Portland started moving the ball and finding open 3 point looks for Meyers Leonard to push back to a 35-30 lead. The Grizzlies looked repeatedly disorganized without Conley, which showed in wasted possessions and a lack of quality shots. Zach Randolph was completely ineffective, finishing the half 1-6 for 2 points and 3 rebounds, 2 fouls, and 2 turnovers in 17.5 first half minutes, while allowing multiple buckets and offensive rebounds to counterparts. Portland continually exploited Memphis' lack of crispness on both ends of the court en route to a 55-48 Blazers halftime lead.
Stat of the half: Portland finished with 26 points on 13/16 at the rim, thanks to easy second chance buckets and poor defensive rotations.
First half grinder: Tie, Beno Udrih and Nick Calathes. While the two may not have been able to keep the offense moving or defend Damian Lillard (16 first half points) like Conley, they combined for 22 first half points (Udrih 13, Calathes 9), 2 rebounds, and 2 assists to keep Memphis within striking distance.
Memphis' first 5 possessions ended with 3 Gasol points and 4 for Randolph as the Grizzlies returned to their pound-the-rock ways. As the defense began to collapse, a kickout to Courtney Lee for 3 pushed the Grizzlies to a 58-57 lead. Memphis was able to extend the lead to 8, 67-59, behind Tony Allen free throws, a Courtney Lee jumper and free throws, and Nick Calathes' 4th three pointer. Memphis dominated the quarter, 27-13, to end the 3rd with a 75-68 Grizzlies lead. Zach Randolph (8 points, 6 rebounds), Marc Gasol (5 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists), and Courtney Lee (9 points) led the charge.
After a ragged first 3 minutes that saw the teams combine for 4 points on 1-10 shooting, a Jeff Green 3 as the shot clock ran out pushed the lead to 10, 80-70. The ragged play continued as the teams combined for 3-19 shooting through the first 5 minutes of the 4th. A pair of Nicolas Batum free throws and a pair of Lillard pull-ups cut the lead to 4, 80-76, with 6:30 remaining. Lillard and C.J. McCollum traded buckets with Gasol and Randolph, but the Grizzlies simply didn't have enough offense down the stretch to compete with the two hot shooters. A pair of big calls - a 4 point play by Lillard under 2 minutes and a loose ball foul on Jeff Green with 28 seconds left that cost the Grizzlies a chance at a possession in a 3 point ball game - really hurt Memphis as they attempted to stay with Portland down the stretch. In the end, Lillard and Co. were too much for the Grizzlies in the 4th, winning the quarter 31-17 as the Grizzlies lose, 99-92.
Stat of the game: Courtney Lee and Marc Gasol outscored their starting counterparts, Afflalo and Lopez, 40-6.
Grindmaster: Marc Gasol (21 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 block)
The Grizzlies struggled at key moments to get baskets without their best shot creator and finisher in Conley. Calathes and Udrih struggled to defend Lillard for most of the game, and Calathes missed two open layups in a critical stretch of the fourth quarter. Memphis just isn't the same without Mike, and that's the reason they're heading home for what will likely be another hard-fought battle in Game 5.