Blazers down Grizzlies to stave off elimination

Portland, OR ( – Playing with their backs against the wall
and in front of their home crowd, the Portland Trail Blazers rallied for a win
in Game 4 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Damian Lillard scored 32 points to lead the Blazers in a 99-92 win over the
Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night.

C.J. McCollum had 18 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 18 points and 12
rebounds for the Blazers, who now trail the series with Memphis 3-1 after
snapping a seven-game losing streak dating back to April 8.

“I usually keep my comments pretty short after a game. It was one hell of an
effort and now we have to take our focus to Game 5,” Blazers coach Terry
Stotts said of his message to his team following the win.

Marc Gasol led the Grizzlies with 21 points to go along with seven rebounds
and six assists. Courtney Lee dropped in 19 points and Zach Randolph chipped
in 12 points and nine rebounds.

Memphis was playing without star point guard Mike Conley, who underwent facial
surgery on Monday to repair a fracture he sustained in the third quarter of
Game 3. Nick Calathes had 12 points in place of Conley.

The Grizzlies have yet to provide a timetable for Conley’s return, though the
Memphis Commercial Appeal reported that the fracture may take several weeks to

“Without Mike on the floor, we tried to feature Jeff Green, but tonight the
shots just didn’t fall for him,” Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said.

Green, who went 3-of-10 from the floor, knocked down a 3-pointer with under
nine minutes to play in the fourth that put the visitors up 80-70. Portland
would dig in on the defensive end from there and send the series back to

“It was a weird time,” Stotts said when his team went down 10. “I don’t think
it was anything unusual, but there was a sense of urgency.”

The Blazers went on a 12-2 run out of a timeout — with six of those points
coming from the free-throw line — to tie the game at 82-82. Gasol quelled the
surge with a tough hook shot over Meyers Leonard, but McCollum skied in for a
layup moments later to knot things back up.

“We stopped competing. We started trading buckets with them (and) did not
execute the way we should have,” Gasol said.

After two free throws by Gasol, Lillard fired in a 3-pointer, was fouled by
Tony Allen and hit the free throw for an 88-86 lead. Randolph made a basket
from in close on the following possession before McCollum’s 3-pointer kept the
back-and-forth quarter going with 1:20 on the clock.

Memphis had two shots at either tying the score or cutting its deficit on the
next possession, but Calathes and Randolph each missed respective shot
attempts. Lillard missed a 3-pointer at the other end, then Nicolas Batum made
1-of-2 from the line following a loose ball foul on Green for a 92-88 edge.

Lee raced in for a layup with 19.9 seconds left, but Lillard calmly made two
free throws to keep it a two-possession contest. Lillard made two more free
throws in the closing seconds that maintained the four-point advantage and
sealed the win.

Game 5 will be Wednesday night in Memphis.

“Every game is an elimination game for us,” Stotts added. “We’re not going to
worry about the series, we’re going to worry about Game 5.”

Calathes fueled a 12-4 run to open the game for Memphis. He converted two
consecutive 3-pointers, then his assist on Gasol’s jumper capped the spurt.

The Blazers countered with a 13-2 run for a three-point edge, and they brought
a 27-22 lead into the second quarter.

The Grizzlies cut their deficit to two with under five minutes left in the
second prior to a 10-2 run from Portland. The Blazers led 55-48 at halftime.

Memphis did not allow a field goal in the third quarter until McCollum’s
jumper at 5:18. In the meantime, the Grizzlies grabbed a 64-57 lead thanks to
a 16-2 burst out of the locker room. Lee’s runner with under a minute to play
capped the scoring in the quarter and gave Memphis a 75-68 lead.

Game Notes

Leonard had 13 points and 13 rebounds off the bench for Portland … Memphis,
who swept the regular-season series from the Blazers, was looking to become
the first team since the 1995-96 Seattle Supersonics to sweep both a regular
season and playoff series from an opponent (Houston) … The Grizzlies failed
to sweep their first postseason series in franchise history … Each team
committed nine turnovers … Portland had a 22-9 advantage on second-chance
points and outrebounded the Grizzlies 50-40.