Grizzlies edge Hawks, end five-game slide
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Grizzlies were on a five-game losing streak and had lost 16 of their last 17 games. To break that streak and beat a team from the Eastern Conference for the first time all season, they went down to the buzzer with the lowly Atlanta Hawks Friday night at FedExForum.
Ahead by two points, the Grizzlies caught a break when guard Dennis Schroder (18 points and 11 assists) missed a running floater with 41 seconds left. They then survived center Marc Gasol’s eighth turnover of the game as the Hawks got off two long jumpers in the closing seconds that missed and Memphis held on for a 96-94 victory.
“Happy we won,” said Gasol, who had 13 points with six rebounds.
“We had 22 turnovers. It was ugly,” said Memphis interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff. “We found a way to pull it out. ... It’s not always going to be a basket that makes a difference in a close game. You look at the end, Tyreke (Evans) did a great job closing out on (Ersan) Ilyasova, and then Drew (Andrew Harrison) got out on (Taurean) Prince and got the deflection there. Those are plays that are going to win ballgames.”
The last shot before the buzzer was a 3-point attempt from Kent Bazemore (19 points and five assists). Harrison (10 points) worried the entire time it was in the air.
“I took a breath,” Harrison said. “It was high enough, definitely.”
It missed, and Grizzlies had the win.
Evans scored 22 points and made a driving layup with 1:02 left in the fourth quarter to give the Grizzlies (9-20) the two-point lead that stood up.
“Tough loss, but we kind of weathered the storm,” Bazemore said. “We know what kind of team we can be and we show glimpses of it.”
The Hawks (6-23) lost their fourth straight and fell for the sixth time in their last seven games.
Memphis trailed by seven at the half, and Gasol was scoreless with six turnovers. But he put up 13 points in the third quarter and Harrison went 3 of 3 from deep for a nine-point quarter. After leading by many as 12 points, the Hawks led 73-72 going into the fourth quarter.
“We persevered,” Harrison said. “Marc took over the third quarter and hit those two big threes coming out of halftime.”
A layup from Schroder gave the Hawks a 94-91 advantage with 2:24 left in the fourth quarter. But Memphis’ Mario Chalmers (16 points and four steals) hit a 3-pointer with 1:44 left to tie the score 94-94, setting the stage for Evans’ game-winning shot.
Prince finished with 17 points and made a career-high five triples. Marco Belinelli had 14 points off the bench.
“We’re really encouraging him to shoot threes,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said of Prince. “That will open up his drive game and the other things he can do.”
The Grizzlies got 12 rebounds and eight points from forward JaMychal Green and nine points and four assists from Chandler Parsons.
The Hawks shot 44.7 percent from the floor and went 12 of 30 from 3-point range for 40 percent. Memphis shot 46.2 percent from the field while going 12 of 25 from distance for 48 percent.
Atlanta led 47-40 at halftime and the Grizzlies had a season-worst 14 first-half turnovers. Memphis outscored the Hawks 32-26 in the third quarter and 24-21 in the fourth to get the victory.
“Winning always feels better than losing,” said Bickerstaff, who is now 2-8 since taking over for the fired David Fizdale. “Moral victories only go so far. The guys needed to be rewarded.”
NOTES: Atlanta entered Friday’s game ranked fourth in the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage at 38.3 and fifth in steals per game with 8.6. ... Memphis PG Mike Conley is still out with a sore Achilles tendon and the Grizzlies are 2-15 without him. ... Memphis is now 1-10 vs. Eastern Conference teams. ... The Grizzlies had a 43-34 edge in rebounds in their victory over the Hawks, but Atlanta had a 21-13 margin on fast-break points.