for this game

Gay outduels Gordon as Grizzlies win third straight

Dec 13, 2008 - 6:29 AM By Shawn Pachuki PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- With all the spotlight on the league's top two rookies, a pair of veterans stole the show Friday night as the Memphis Grizzlies outlasted the Chicago Bulls, 103-96.

The game was billed as a platform for Rookie of the Year candidates Derrick Rose and O.J. Mayo - the first and third picks in this year's draft, respectively - but instead it turned into a shooting duel between the Bulls' Ben Gordon and the Grizzlies' Rudy Gay.

In the end, the third-year guard won out, overshadowing everyone en route to a season-high 29 points, propelling the Grizzlies to their third victory in a row.

"It feels good," Gay said. "We're playing with confidence, and that's what the NBA is all about - confidence. Hopefully, we can build on this one."

Gay hit just about every big shot he could but got some clutch help from reserve forward Hakim Warrick in the final minutes.

"That was a total team effort - different guys stepping up at key points in the game and make plays," said Warrick, who scored 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and pulled down six rebounds.

With the Bulls fighting their way out of a nine-point hole with a 6-0 spurt early in the fourth, Gay followed a turnaround by Warrick with an 18-footer from straightaway to give the Grizzlies an 87-79 lead with 7:40 to play.

Two minutes later, after a highlight reel layup by Rose cut the Bulls' deficit to 91-85, Warrick scored four straight to give Memphis a 95-85 advantage with 3:58 to go.

The Bulls never threatened the rest of the way.

"We were able to come out (in the second half) and change the momentum," Gay said. "Guys stepped up and I think the defense controlled it in the end. That's how we have to play."

"I think they had great energy," Grizzlies coach Marc Iavaroni said. "They just fought hard all night."

Gay scored 10 points in the game-changing third quarter, as the Grizzlies erased a four-point deficit and turned it into a double-digit advantage. He buried a 3-pointer just a few seconds into the period, then added another in the final two minutes. He came up cold in the fourth, though, missing 4-of-5 shots.

Fortunately, Warrick was there to pick up the slack in the final frame.

"That's what has to happen," Gay said. "We're a team. When somebody is down, guys have to step up. Late, when I missed a couple of my shots and a couple of my layups, Hakim stepped in."

"I just wanted to give good energy," Warrick said. "I got the ball in some good spots, and guys found me in good spots to score. It's good team ball."

Playing to a crowded house of fans who adored him as a member of the national championship runner-up Memphis Tigers, Rose dazzled at moments and finished with 12 points on 6-of-13 shooting and handed out 11 assists.

Mayo, meanwhile, scored 14 points, pushing his streak of double-digit scoring games to 23 consecutive to begin his career. However, he shot just 5-of-14 from the field.

Acknowledging the support from his college fans, Rose gave Memphis credit for turning up the intensity down the stretch in this one.

"They were knocking down big shots," Rose said. "Their defense was hustling."

Gordon, meanwhile, did his part to keep the Bulls in it, scoring seven in the third. He finished with 26 points and knocked down seven 3-pointers. Five of those came in the first nine minutes of the game, as he fueled the Bulls' offense early before taking to the bench with his second foul.

"I just locked in and focused," said Gordon, who was 7-of-11 from the arc on the night. "After the first few, I felt like I was in a good rhythm. Unfortunately, I got into a little bit of foul trouble."

With 30 seconds remaining and the Grizzlies holding a comfortable 10-point lead, Gordon connected on his seventh shot from the arc to cut the deficit to seven and give Chicago a fighting, if unlikely, chance. Predictably, it was too little, too late.

The Bulls led by as many as 14 in the first quarter when they shot 61 percent, but surrendered an 8-0 run at the start of the second, allowing the Grizzlies to knot the game at 30-30. The Bulls' shooting touch wore off as the game moved along.

"I thought we got off to a pretty good start, but we got into some foul trouble," Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We had too many turnovers in the first half to let them get back in it. They made some tough shots. ... We lost an opportunity."

The Grizzlies shot 47 percent (40-of-85) and dominated inside, outscoring Chicago in the paint, 52-24.

Memphis posted its fourth win in five games and its third straight at home after losing 11 of its previous 12.

"It is a game of momentum. You have to learn from your failures," Iavaroni said. "There is a good team energy right now."

Luol Deng added 19 points for Chicago, which shot 44 percent (36-of-81) for the game and dropped its fourth straight in Memphis.

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