for this game

Warrick clutch down the stretch as Grizzlies survive

Feb 24, 2007 - 7:16 AM PORTLAND, Oregon (Ticker) -- Rookie Rudy Gay provided the defense and style points. Hakim Warrick provided the ice-water veins and the referees provided the last-second excitement.

Gay made a key block and steal on consecutive plays in the last minute, Warrick scored 10 points down the stretch - including two free throws with 17 seconds left - and the Memphis Grizzlies overcame a controversial call by the officials in the last second for a 103-102 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Memphis appeared to have the game won when Damon Stoudamire made the first of two free throws with eight-tenths of a second left for a 103-101 lead. He purposely missed the second foul shot, but Memphis' Lawrence Roberts was called for a loose-ball foul even though it appeared he hardly touched Ime Udoka.

"Whether it was a foul or not I don't know," Memphis interim coach Tony Barrone said. "We should have made the second free throw. That would have put us up three. They had no timeouts. Make them in-bounds the ball and make a miracle shot or foul them.

"I would have been devastated if we lost that game after how hard our guys played tonight. And I would have been to blame for that. I told Damon to miss the second free throw."

After the referees looked at replays, it was determined that the foul was committed prior to the ball being touched, therefore extending the game.

"I was in shock, I'm going to have to go back and check that one out," Roberts said. "I got to see that one for myself. I had my hands up and was ready to head for the locker room and cheer my boy Rudy on for making those big plays. I'm thinking game over but they called the foul. My heart stopped on that one."

Udoke calmly sank the first free throw but clanked the second off the back rim.

"Damon came up to me and asked me if I was going to represent Portland," Udoka said. "We was going to do anything to help make me miss them.

"I was very disappointed. Guys were saying that it wasn't my fault and that we gave it away earlier in the game. But at the same time, if you have a chance to put it into overtime, you have to make those free throws. That's just the bottom line."

The Trail Blazers scored nine straight points, capped by an inside basket by Zach Randolph to tie the game at 98-98 with 1:45 left. On their next possession, Jamal Magloire rebounded a miss by rookie Brandon Roy and went up for what looked like an easy follow shot before Gay came out of nowhere and swatted it away.

"I guess it was me just being at the right place at the right time," Gay said. "I knew what he was going to do and I just tried to beat him there."

Portland recovered the ball and tried to swing it to Roy on the right wing, but Gay jumped into the passing lane and deflected it off Roy out of bounds with 38 seconds left.

"I was actually going for the steal," Gay said. "I got there first but it kinda slipped through my hands and luckily it bounced off Roy. But I was actually thinking about the steal."

Mike Miller drove the lane for Memphis, drew the defense and dropped the ball down to Warrick, who was hacked by Udoka on his way up for a dunk.

Warrick, a 77 percent free-throw shooter, was 10-for-10 for the game and the Grizzlies were 31-of-33. Memphis entered shooting 76 percent from the line.

"It was just a stretch for me," Warrick said. "We have been struggling from the line, so it was good to go out there and hit them. When you get 30-plus free throws and you're making most of them, it makes it for a lot of points that the other team has to make up."

After Warrick's free throws, Portland went to Randolph, whose short hook banked off the backboard and rim before being tipped out to midcourt, where Gay picked it up and slammed home a windmill dunk for a 102-98 lead with three seconds left.

"You know next time I probably wouldn't do that," Gay said. "I probably would have dribbled the ball in the corner and ran the time off the clock. I guess you live and learn."

Roy knocked down a 3-pointer after a timeout to set up the end-of-game theatrics.

Pau Gasol scored 23 points and Warrick added 20 off the bench for Memphis, which beat a Northwest Division opponent for the first time this season.

Randolph scored 25 points and Roy chipped in 18 for Portland, which had won four of its previous six games.

Portland overcame a 58-50 halftime deficit by making 16-of-22 shots to take an 87-81 lead with 10:49 left in the game. Memphis went on a 17-2 run, sparked by eight points by Warrick - six free throws - and capped by a three-point play by Miller for a 98-89 edge.

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