The Memphis Grizzlies look to defeat Portland for the third time in a six-day span when they host the Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
Memphis swept a two-game set in Portland on Friday and Sunday, crucial victories that give the Grizzlies the tiebreaker advantage when it comes to playoff seeding.
The Trail Blazers (33-28) are 1 1/2 games ahead of the eighth-place Grizzlies (31-29). Both teams are trying to reach the top six in the Western Conference so they can avoid the play-in round.
Portland enters this meeting with a dose of momentum after clobbering the Indiana Pacers 133-112 on Tuesday night to open a six-game road trip in style. The convincing win ended the Blazers’ season-worst five-game slide.
Anfernee Simons was hotter than lava and made his first nine 3-point attempts before missing his last one. He scored a season-best 27 points in 24 minutes off the bench.
“I felt like I couldn’t miss at all,” said Simons, a third-year pro. “It feels good. All the hard work you put in, I’m just glad to see it come to fruition.”
Before he missed his final long-distance attempt, Simons equaled the NBA record of 13 consecutive made 3-pointers, previously accomplished three times.
Star guard Damian Lillard played a supporting role Tuesday with 23 points. But he made four 3-pointers to become the 10th player in NBA history with 2,000 career 3-pointers.
Lillard (2,001) reached the mark in 671 games, second-fastest all-time behind Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry (597).
Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts was pleased with the convincing victory but was quick to turn the focus to Memphis on the second end of a road back-to-back.
“We’ve played well recently and we’ve come up short,” Stotts said. “We’ve got a tough game (Wednesday) against Memphis. Obviously we played two close games against them, we have a little payback and we’ve got to be ready to play.”
Memphis just concluded a seven-game road trip in which it posted a 4-3 record. It didn’t end well as the Grizzlies were whipped 120-96 by the Denver Nuggets on Monday night.
“We definitely got better over this road trip even though we lost some close ones and didn’t finish it out strong,” guard Grayson Allen said. “We got four wins out of it. That’s good.”
The Grizzlies are playing their first home game in exactly two weeks. Coach Taylor Jenkins said the long trip provided a wealth of positive steps for his club.
“We talk about these great growth opportunities, and our guys are relishing this opportunity,” Jenkins said. “The biggest takeaway? The togetherness of this team is getting more entrenched.”
Memphis made just 4 of 32 3-point attempts in the loss to Denver, one night after knocking down 12 of 23 in a 120-113 victory over the Trail Blazers.
Star point guard Ja Morant scored 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting against the Nuggets — he missed all four 3-point attempts — to continue a strong five-game run. He is averaging 29.2 points during the stretch, including a 33-point effort in Friday’s 130-128 win in Portland.
Allen is averaging just 6.3 points on 8-of-29 shooting during a four-game funk. It follows a two-game stretch in which he averaged 25 points.
Big man Jaren Jackson Jr., who just returned from knee surgery in August, scored 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting in Friday’s win over Portland.
–Field Level Media