for this game

Miller, Gay spark Grizzlies

Apr 7, 2008 - 2:26 AM By Peter Kapsner PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- In a contest where youth was served, it was a relatively grizzled veteran who provided the difference.

Mike Miller scored 34 points to lead the Memphis Grizzles to a 113-101 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.

Emerging star Rudy Gay contributed 23 points of his own as part of a neophyte Memphis starting lineup that holds a combined 13 years of NBA experience.

"I think we're still on pace to become a pretty good team," Gay said. "I think it's going to take awhile. It's going to take a couple more practices, but I think we could be a good team. Just a lot of things happened too late in the season."

The Timberwolves, meanwhile, got a fairly quiet performance from their own emerging star, Al Jefferson, who tallied just 18 points and eight rebounds. Jefferson, who leads an even younger lineup with just 11 NBA years, fell below his season averages of 21 points and 11 boards.

Miller and Gay then took over early in the fourth for the Grizzlies, combining for 14 of the Grizzlies' first 23 points and pushed them to a 104-99 lead with 3:42 left in the game.

"We liked him (Gay) at the end obviously, but I think overall he set the tone with his unselfish play, his physical play," Memphis coach Mark Iavaroni said. "He was totally in there tonight. He was really focused. ... Then Mike Miller, some big, big shots. He is always a danger."

Gay scored 11 points in the final five minutes, including a three-point play that put Memphis ahead for good, 98-95.

Miller nailed eight 3-pointers and finished 12-of-19 overall from the floor. He added nine rebounds, six assists and two blocks to help Memphis rebound from a 117-86 defeat to the Golden State Warriors on Friday.

"I just got some shots," Miller said. "When you're making threes, it opens it up inside for the big guys."

"He was real tough tonight," Wolves forward Craig Smith said of Miller. "Guys were getting in his face and giving him contested jump shots, but he was still making them. He was just having one of those nights where he couldn't miss."

The Grizzlies opened the game with a 21-8 run, scoring at will from all over the court. Gay continued his solid all-around sophomore campaign with six points, four assists and four rebounds - highlighted by a spectacular throw-down on an alley-oop from Miller.

Jefferson had zero points and zero boards as the quarter ended with the Grizzlies leading, 27-19.

"That was Al's doing," Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said. "I think a little bit of it is fatigue, but you gotta learn to play through that. This is the first time he's played this many games. We've played 76 games and he's played every one of them."

The Wolves turned the tide early in the second quarter with a 22-10 run that pushed them into the lead for the first time at 38-37.

Getting nine points apiece from reserves Kirk Snyder and Rashad McCants, Minnesota scored 39 points and shot a blistering 71 percent in the second quarter to take a 55-54 halftime lead.

"We kind of figured it out in the second quarter," Wittman said. "We had a group of guys that played and passed and shared the ball. Nobody was worried about who got touches and where the ball would go."

The game was tight throughout the third quarter as both teams exchanged runs. The Grizzlies held an eight-point lead seven minutes into the quarter after an 8-2 run, but the Wolves responded with a 12-0 spurt, highlighted by several short jumpers from Randy Foye, to take a 76-72 lead.

The Grizzlies scored their final nine points of the third quarter at the free-throw line to make it 81-81 heading into the fourth quarter.

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