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Grizzlies' hot shooting leads to rout of Timberwolves

Dec 2, 2007 - 5:14 AM By Jason Smith PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- The Memphis Grizzlies finally appear to be developing some chemistry under first-year coach Marc Iavaroni.

Rudy Gay scored 21 points to lead six Grizzlies in double figures Saturday as Memphis earned its fourth victory in its last seven games with an easy 109-80 rout of the struggling and shorthanded Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Grizzlies began the season by losing seven of their first nine contests but have rebounded to win four of their next seven, including three of their last four.

"I think we're taking small steps, and that's all we can ask out of ourselves," Grizzlies forward Stromile Swift said. "We're improving every day, every game. A lot of people may not be able to see it, but we can see it. We just want to continue to get better and, hopefully, start putting a string of wins together."

"For once, it was nice to have a win that didn't go down to the wire," said Gay, who had scored a combined 15 points on 5-of-18 shooting in Memphis' last two contests.

Mike Miller added 18 points and 14 rebounds for Memphis, which shot a sizzling 53 percent (32-of-61) from the field over the game's first three quarters to build a 24-point lead.

Swift also registered a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for the Grizzlies.

Minnesota, playing on the second night of a back-to-back after hosting San Antonio on Friday, connected on just 38 percent (33-of-86) from the field to fall behind by as many as 36 points in the fourth quarter.

The Timberwolves, who played again without guards Randy Foye and Marko Jaric, have dropped eight of their last nine games.

"This was our worst performance of the year," Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said. "Either because we felt sorry for ourselves or because of where we are injury-wise. "We didn't come out with any purpose or thought of winning that game tonight."

"Our concentration was high tonight, but we can't take too much stock into this because they're so depleted and coming off a back-to-back," Iavaroni said.

Rashad McCants scored 18 points to lead Minnesota, which also got 13 points off the bench from forward Antoine Walker. It was not enough to make up for the Minnesota starters, who combined to score just 45 points.

"It was one of those games I want to forget about," said Minnesota forward Al Jefferson, who was limited to nine points on 3-of-9 shooting. "I don't even want to talk about it."

Damon Stoudamire connected on three straight 3-pointers in the first quarter to give the Grizzlies an early 14-9 advantage. Gasol and Miller added five points apiece in the opening frame to help give the Grizzlies a 26-21 lead after one.

Memphis outscored Minnesota, 17-6, over the first 7:05 of the second quarter, and Gasol's baseline jumper gave the Grizzlies their biggest lead of the first half at 43-27.

Juan Carlos Navarro added a pair of 3-pointers during the spurt, helping the Grizzlies finish a sizzling 50 percent (7-of-14) from beyond the arc in the first half. Memphis shot 45 percent (13-for-29) from 3-point range for the game.

Memphis finished the first half shooting 49 percent (19-of-39), but a 13-6 Minnesota scoring run over the final 4:26 of the second quarter cut the Grizzlies' lead back to 49-40 by halftime.

Memphis, which got 76 points from its starters, outscored Minnesota, 30-15, in the third quarter to take a 79-55 lead after three periods.

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