MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Marc Gasol had 27 points and 11 rebounds, and Mike Conley hit a big 3-pointer with 30 seconds left to lift the Memphis Grizzlies to a much-needed 101-97 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.
Gasol scored nine straight points in the final 4 minutes, and Conley’s 3 from the wing broke a 95-all tie. Conley finished with 17 points and hit two free throws with 11 seconds left for Memphis, which had been sluggish over the previous five games.
Andrew Wiggins scored 25 points and Ricky Rubio had 13 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds for the Wolves. But Kevin Garnett was ejected early in the third quarter of his second game back in a Wolves uniform after picking up his second technical foul, and Kevin Martin missed a 3-pointer from the corner that could have tied it in the closing seconds.
Zach Randolph had two points on 1-for-5 shooting in the first 42 minutes, then scored five straight against Wiggins and Payne on the block for an 86-84 Grizzlies lead.
Martin, who finished with 13 points on 5-for-18 shooting, hit a 3 to tie it at 95 before Conley’s clutch shot.
The Grizzlies shot 59 percent, but 24 turnovers led to 32 points that kept the Timberwolves in the game.
A second straight sellout crowd packed the arena to see Garnett, the franchise icon now back in the familiar No. 21 jersey he wore from 1995-2007. But Garnett’s night was short-lived. He picked up a technical for arguing with referee Eric Lewis in the second quarter, then was ejected after picking up another from Bennett Salvatore in the third when Garnett slammed the ball down in frustration after getting called for a foul on Jeff Green.
Garnett’s ouster seemed to take the starch out of the crowd, and the Grizzlies threatened to pull away with a 10-2 run that gave them a 67-52 lead midway through the third.
But Wiggins keyed a 16-2 run that was aided by technical fouls on Gasol and coach Dave Joerger seconds apart. Gary Neal capped the surge with a 3 to pull Minnesota to 69-68, and Adreian Payne’s turnaround jumper gave the Wolves a 74-72 lead early in the fourth.
The Grizzlies trudged into Target Center in a bit of a funk with three losses in their previous five games, including two in a row to Sacramento and the Clippers, in which the starters got off to slow starts.
It was more of the same in the first half against the Wolves. Gasol, Randolph and Green were all whisper quiet in the first quarter and the Grizzlies turned the ball over a season-high 15 times in the first half.
But Nick Calathes, Beno Udrih and the rest of the Grizzlies’ reserves revved up the energy in the second. They made 10 of 13 shots to start the period, putting Memphis ahead 38-35, and Green woke up in the second half when Garnett went to the locker room.
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