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Biedrins, Warriors blow out Grizzlies

Apr 5, 2008 - 4:24 AM MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Andris Biedrins started out fast at just the right time for the Golden State Warriors.

Biedrins scored 12 of his 21 points in the first quarter and also hauled in 17 rebounds as the Warriors kept their playoff hopes alive with a 117-86 blowout of the lowly Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.

Monta Ellis scored 19 points and Kelenna Azubuike added 15 and 10 rebounds for Golden State (46-30), which moved to within one-half game of the idle Denver Nuggets (46-29) for the eighth and final postseason spot in the Western Conference.

"This was a really important game," Biedrins said. "We still have a good chance to make the playoffs. We did not have our heads down after the two tough losses. We will keep fighting. Sunday (at New Orleans) will be an even more important game. We just need to do our business and see how other teams play."

It was a much-needed victory for the visitors who suffered a playoff-damaging defeat to Dallas on Wednesday.

In that game reigning MVP Dirk Nowitzki returned from severe ankle sprain to pour in 18 points to help Dallas rout Golden State, 111-86. The loss dropped the Warriors two games behind the Mavericks and put them on the outside looking in if the playoffs started now.

After losing two in a row and needing a win in the worst way, Golden State quickly put away this contest against one of the NBA's lower-echelon teams.

Thanks to 4-of-5 shooting from Biedrins in the first quarter, the Warriors led by eight at the end of the period.

"I think in the beginning, they were concentrating more on our outside shooters," said Biedrins, who connected on 8-of-11 for the game. "On the pick-and-roll, there were a lot of times when the middle was open, or I got the offensive rebound because everybody was outside guarding our 3-point shooters. That left me open."

The visitors went on a 17-4 burst in the second to take a 54-35 advantage with 4:48 before halftime.

"We did not want Memphis to hang around until the end of the game because that team can really shoot," Biedrins added. "We made sure we did our business in the first half and make sure that we had a safe win."

Golden State led by 14 at the break and then by 24 entering the final quarter to help end a season high-tying three-game road losing streak.

"It was a difficult game for us," Grizzlies coach Marc Iavaroni said. "We ran into a very good team. I have to praise Golden State for coming in here after two tough losses. They played well, shot well and when you shoot good from the perimeter, it makes it difficult for the defense."

Iavaroni was also impressed with the way Biedrins helped control the backboards for the Warriors.

"Andris has great instincts for the ball," Iavaroni noted. "He's quick, has good second and third efforts and has good hands around the rim. Those are all the ingredients to a good rebounder."

Tri-captain Stephen Jackson had 14 points and six assists and rookie Marco Belinelli scored a season-high 13 off the bench for the Warriors, who shot 54 percent (49-of-91) and connected on eight 3-pointers.

"I knew that I was going to play this game because before the game. Coach Nelson came to me and said he wanted me to guard (Juan Carlos) Navarro," Belinelli said. "I made some mistakes on defense. It is difficult for a rookie, it is difficult for everybody. The important thing is that we won the game and we continue to play well the last six games."

Rudy Gay had 23 points and seven rebounds for the Grizzlies, who lost for the sixth straight time to the Warriors and have dropped five of seven overall.

Hakim Warrick scored 13 points and Kyle Lowry added eight off the bench for Memphis (20-56), which shot 39 percent (34-of-87) and has allowed the Warriors to reach the century mark or better in the Grizzlies' six straight losses to them.

"I think it was tough for us to hit shots at some points in the game," Gay said. "Even for me, I was feeling like when we got a shot, we weren't able to get a stop. But, that happens. What we have to do is to be able to respond to that. I think the good teams are able to learn from that and make someone want to step up and make plays."

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