MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — O.J. Mayo and the Memphis Grizzlies had a sound defensive strategy and, wow, did it ever work against the sloppy Minnesota Timberwolves.
Mayo scored 29 points and the Grizzlies had a franchise-record 22 steals in a 109-89 victory against Minnesota on Saturday night.
“We just wanted to be aggressive on the ballhandlers. Make it tough for them to bring the ball up court,” said Memphis guard Mike Conley, who had 14 points, seven steals, and matched his career high with 11 assists. “And when their bigs got it, just try to clamp down on it as soon as possible, and hit them from different sides where they weren’t looking and not expecting it.”
Rudy Gay added 25 points and Darrell Arthur scored 18 for Memphis, which has won two of its first three games for the first time since the 2005-06 season, the last time the team went to the playoffs.
Wayne Ellington led the Timberwolves with 15 points, and Kevin Love had 14 points and 13 rebounds. Sebastian Telfair scored 12.
Minnesota finished with 30 turnovers and shot 35 percent from the field.
“I feel like we were a disgrace to the game of basketball,” said Michael Beasley, who turned it over six times. “We had 30 turnovers. Thirty turnovers, man. That’s not basketball. That’s not team basketball. That’s not basketball at all. Everything we worked on since training camp just went out the window. Defensively. Offensively. We didn’t play as a team. It was just bad from every aspect of the game.”
Mayo’s dunk with 4:36 left extended the Grizzlies’ lead to 100-79 and was set up by Conley’s record-breaking steal, No. 20 for the game.
Memphis got off to a fast start and maintained a double-digit lead through most of the first half, carrying a 59-46 edge into the break. Mayo had 19 at intermission, including a 3-pointer as time ran out in the half.
Love had 10 points in the first half and got some offensive help from Ellington in the third, but the Timberwolves, coming off their first win of the season, couldn’t sustain any sort of momentum.
“We had the energy before the game, but once the game started, I think we didn’t set the tone for the rest of the game,” Love said.
Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said his team’s ability to control the game was based on the defense that not only contributed to the franchise record for steals, but also disrupted the Timberwolves’ offense.
“I think it’s effort,” he said. “It’s getting back to what we do. … We had 32 deflections and nine times we had three stops in a row. We had some consistency with our effort.”
NOTES: The game featured the league’s youngest and least-experienced teams. The Grizzlies are the least experienced (2.6 years to 2.7 for Minnesota), while the Timberwolves have an average age of 24 years and 84 days, compared to Memphis’ 24 years, 225 days. … Memphis F Zach Randolph missed his second straight game with a right hip contusion. Randolph was injured in the first quarter of Wednesday’s season opener against the Atlanta Hawks. … Memphis now hits the road for a West Coast swing, playing four games in five nights. … Memphis rookie G Greivis Vasquez saw his first action, playing the final three minutes. … It was the first road game this season for Minnesota, which was 5-36 away from home last season.
(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)