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Gay, Navarro lead Grizzlies to rare back-to-back wins

Mar 23, 2008 - 4:03 AM By Jason Smith PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- The Memphis Grizzlies won back-to-back games for just the second time this season with a 117-111 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday at FedEx Forum.

Second-year forward Rudy Gay scored 24 points to lead seven Grizzlies in double figures, as the team put together its first two-game winning streak since topping Washington and New Jersey in November.

"That is what we have been looking for all season long," said Memphis center Darko Milicic, who finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. "We are trying to finish this season strong. We are not going to give up like some teams do when they are in a tough position like we are now. We are trying to be better for next season."

Rookie guard Juan Carlos Navarro added 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting for Memphis, which shot 51 percent (41-of-81) from the floor in the contest.

Both teams were playing on the second night of back-to-backs. The Grizzlies, who had not swept a back-to-back since the 2005-06 season, beat the New York Knicks 120-106 at Madison Square Garden on Friday, while Sacramento fell 102-89 at San Antonio.

"We had some good performances on the back-to-back, most notably from Juan Carlos Navarro, who put up some good numbers, especially from three," Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni said. "He seemed to give us a lift every time he would make an open three, and they paid a price for leaving him alone."

The Kings dressed just nine players and were without starters Ron Artest (sore right elbow), Brad Miller (right elbow bursitis) and Beno Udrih, who missed his third straight game with a lower back strain.

"It's a tough loss for us," Sacramento coach Reggie Theus said. "We could use the excuse of not having three starters tonight, but we ended up losing the game by six points."

Shorthanded Sacramento used an 18-2 third-quarter run to slice what had been an 18-point advantage for Memphis with more than six minutes left in the period to just 87-85 with 1:59 left in the quarter.

Kevin Martin scored 10 points during the run and netted 17 in the period for Sacramento.

But Memphis scored seven straight points over the next 1:27 to push its lead back to 94-85.

Two free throws by Kings reserve guard Quincy Douby with 2:41 to play cut the deficit to 107-104, but Navarro and Gay answered with back-to-back 3-pointers to seal it.

"They made 12 threes tonight," Theus said. "Juan Carlos made six. We just have to continue to make defense our priority, because if you try to outscore teams, it's just not going to work."

Martin scored 29 points and center Spencer Hawes, starting in place of Miller, finished with a career-high 19 and 12 rebounds for Sacramento.

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