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Grizzlies win first division game of season

Feb 14, 2007 - 6:22 AM MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- The Memphis Grizzlies finally broke through.

Mike Miller scored 22 points and Chucky Atkins added 19 as the Grizzlies picked up their first win in the Southwest Division with a 108-104 victory over the New Orleans Hornets.

Rookie Rudy Gay had 18 points and two steals and Hakim Warrick chipped in 15 points and 12 rebounds off the bench for Memphis, which ended its personal five-game slide against the Hornets.

Gay, who was taken eighth overall in June's draft, has been steadily improving of late, averaging 15.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in his last four games.

"It's just about being comfortable with the system and having great teammates like Mike and Pau (Gasol)," Gay said. "It makes it easier when you have the best offensive player with Mike, and the best post defensive player with Pau. Every team has a guy that's consistent every night, a glue guy, and I want to be a guy like that."

"(Rudy's) playing great right now and he's going to continue to get better," Miller said. "He's 20, so it's going to be a process, and we knew that when he first got here. We're just looking for him to continue to be consistent like he has been. When he's playing like that, he really helps our team."

Warrick made a pair of free throws to snap a 97-97 tie, and on the ensuing possesion Gay blocked Jannero Pargo's 3-pointer, which led to Warrick's fast-break jam with 1:31 remaining.

After Gay won a jump ball against Desmond Mason, Atkins fed Warrick, who was cutting along the baseline, for another dunk with 52 seconds left for a 103-97 lead.

The win helped Memphis (14-39) bounce back impressively from Saturday's 114-99 setback to the Hornets in the first game of a home-and-home series.

"I'm seeing improvement from guys I need to see improvement from," Memphis interim coach Tony Barone said. "From the standpoint of what we did, I'm pleased."

Mason scored 23 points and David West added 22 and 11 rebounds for the Hornets, who shot 39 percent (41-of-103) from the floor and forced 18 turnovers.

"It's a tough loss just because we needed this one," West said. "This is one of those games we looked at and you see a good victory. But we let them really do what they wanted to, especially in that fourth quarter. We had them down and instead of putting them away we kind of just backed off and let them get what they wanted."

Tyson Chandler scored a career-high 17 points and grabbed a franchise-tying 23 rebounds - 12 offensive boards - for the Hornets, who had their three-game winning streak ended.

"We are an immature basketball team," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "We win three in a row and we think we're NBA champions or something."

Hornets star guard Chris Paul was held in check with just five points on 0-of-7 shooting, but did hand out 10 assists.

"It's very disappointing," Paul said. "You've got to give a lot of credit to Memphis, but at the same time, I don't feel like we played at the level we've been playing at the last few games."

Earlier Tuesday, the Grizzlies traded center Jake Tsakalidis to Houston in exchange for forward Scott Padgett.

"I know a little about Padgett," Barone said. "I know he is a great 3-point shooter."

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