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Miller, Grizzlies gain first win for Barone

Dec 31, 2006 - 7:17 AM MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Mike Miller wanted to make Tony Barone's first experience as an NBA head coach a memorable one.

Miller scored 27 points and Pau Gasol added 22 and 11 rebounds as the Memphis Grizzlies posted a 110-104 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

Chucky Atkins had 16 points and dished out nine assists and fellow reserve Stromile Swift added 15 points and a season-high 14 rebounds for Memphis, which gave Barone his first win since taking over for Mike Fratello, who was fired on Thursday.

"It feels good to get a win," Miller said. "I'm just happy for coach Barone. It's a tough job to come in and get prepared in one day. Good for him that he got his first win. Hopefully we can get a lot more for him."

Barone, who was the director of player personnel for the Grizzlies and an assistant coach with the team from 2002-04, had head coaching experience at the collegiate level, guiding Texas A&M from 1991-98 and Creighton from 1985-91.

"It's a great win for these guys," Barone said. "It's a weight off their shoulders. I'm dead tired. I'm done. I told Jerry West I'm done and that was enough. It was fun."

Miller shot 9-of-15 from the field, including 7-of-12 from 3-point range for the Grizzlies, who have won eight straight from the Raptors.

"Miller was huge for them with the 3-point shot, and they got good games from Gasol and Swift," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "I think we just spent too much energy getting back into the game to make that push when we needed it."

Rookie Rudy Gay also had 10 points off the bench for Memphis, which shot 48 percent (38-of-79) and snapped a five-game losing streak.

"Everyone was excited tonight," Gasol said. "When you're up and you're winning, you enjoy it. It's no fun to go out and get your butt kicked time after time. So it's fun when you kick someone else's butt. It feels good, and people enjoy it."

Morris Peterson scored 19 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, to keep Toronto in the game. His 3-pointer with 6:29 left in the period gave the Raptors a 95-94 advantage, their last lead of the game.

"We just got down too big early," Peterson said. "We played better in the second half and fought back, but we just couldn't get the plays at the end when we needed it."

"One of the things Coach stressed to us was pushing the ball, whether Toronto made it or missed it," Miller said. "When they made their run in the fourth, we kept pushing the ball. They took the lead, but we came right back down and found a way to score. We hit a couple of back-to-back 3-pointers and got a stop, and that's what gave us a little boost."