The Memphis Grizzlies are losers of four straight and are hoping to turn things around against the last team they managed to beat - the Portland Trail Blazers. The Grizzlies earned a 98-97 win in Portland on Nov. 7 but surrendered an average of 110.5 points in the last four contests to drop under .500.
Memphis was solid defensively at home against Houston on Saturday, holding one of the league’s top scoring offenses to 44.9 percent shooting - but could not figure out a way to get anything done at the other end in a 105-83 loss. “We couldn’t get organized in the basic sets that we run, for whatever reason,” Grizzlies coach David Fizdale told reporters. “I know a couple of the guys that are just getting back are running around with their heads cut off a little bit. We just couldn’t get organized.” The Trail Blazers are moving in the opposite direction with wins in three of their last four games but are just 2-3 on the road, where they will play their next five games. Portland has not won a road game since Oct. 20, when they topped Indiana 114-96 in the second game of the season.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN Northwest (Portland), FSN Southeast
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (9-7): Portland scored a season low in an 86-82 loss at Sacramento on Friday but returned the favor with a 102-90 triumph at home over the Kings the next night. “I liked our demeanor,” Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts told reporters after the win. “After being disappointed last night and struggling with the offense, to come back and the way we set the tone — I think our first five baskets were assisted — I thought that set a good tone for the rest of the night.” That offense is being led by shooting guard CJ McCollum, who is averaging 21.3 points on 55.2 percent shooting in the last four games.
ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES (7-8): Memphis is searching for a leader on the court with point guard Mike Conley (Achilles) out until at least next month, and center Marc Gasol is trying to fill the void. Gasol went 6-of-17 from the floor in Saturday’s loss and was honest in discussing his team’s issues. “The only thing I can say is I apologize because that’s not what our fans are used to seeing and we’ve got to figure it out,” Gasol told reporters. “The only way I know how to do that is working, getting back to work, helping the players. There’s a lot of new guys that haven’t been a part of this, but it’s the mindset that we’ve always had, the accountability that we’ve always had, the mindset of one-on-one challenge and trusting the guy behind you.”
1. Trail Blazers PG Damian Lillard went 1-of-7 from 3-point range on Saturday and is shooting 31.7 percent from beyond the arc.
2. Grizzlies SG Tyreke Evans (shoulder) is day-to-day.
3. Portland earned the win in two of its last three trips to Memphis.
PREDICTION: Grizzlies 103, Trail Blazers 101