By Ron Wynn
The Memphis Grizzlies completed the first half of the season in fine form Tuesday night, defeating the Sacramento Kings 108-101.
The Grizzlies go into the All-Star break 33-18, their best mark after 51 games in team history. It also assures they’ll remain in front of Denver and Golden State in the race for the fourth seed and a home playoff spot in the first round.
The Grizzlies continued getting a scoring boost from an unexpected source. Though he’s one of the NBA’s best defensive players, guard Tony Allen has struggled from the field this year. He’s averaged only 8.4 points and shot under 40 percent much of the season. But he had 19 points Tuesday, and has averaged 14.7 over his last three games, helping power Memphis’ three-game winning streak.
“The last few games he’s been scoring a few points and he’s made shots,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins told the Associated Press. “He’s gotten to the basket. He’s made good decisions.”
The Grizzlies also got another excellent game from center Marc Gasol. He had 24 points and 12 rebounds, while point guard Mike Conley had 22. Allen was eight of 12 from the floor, and had seven points during the 13-8 run that gave Memphis a 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
Zac Randolph added 13 points for the Grizzlies, who led the entire game, and had 32 points in the second quarter. The Grizzlies are only a game behind the Los Angeles Clippers in the loss column (LA is 37-17), but the San Antonio Spurs have a wide lead for the Southwest Division title at 41-12.
But after falling behind Denver a half game last week, the Grizzlies have taken advantage of two losses by the Nuggets and Golden State to get ahead of Denver by two games and the Warriors by four. The All-Star break begins after Wednesday’s games, with the All-Star Game being Sunday night in Houston at 7 p.m. It will air on TNT.
Photos By: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images