(AP) — Late baskets from their leading scorers kept the Memphis Grizzlies and New Jersey Nets heading in the right direction.
Lately, the Nets’ Brook Lopez has had an easier time making shots than the Grizzlies’ Rudy Gay.
Gay will try to get back on track and atone for last month’s poor performance against New Jersey by helping his team match its longest win streak of the season Wednesday night.
Gay, averaging a career-high 20.5 points, is shooting 36.3 percent over the past five games. However, his last-second fadeaway jumper gave Memphis a 100-98 win in Toronto on Monday.
Despite his recent lack of accuracy, Gay topped 20 points for the third time in four games with 21 and still has the confidence of coach Lionel Hollins.
“He’s the one guy on our team that can get a shot, make the shot but also get a really good shot,” Hollins said. “I figured if I wanted one guy to take the shot, it would be Rudy.”
While Gay lifted his team in Toronto, Lopez made a turnaround jumper with 1.4 seconds remaining in a 103-101 win over Cleveland the same evening.
Lopez, scoring a career-high 19.2 points per game, finished with 28 on 10-of-20 shooting while helping his team rally from a 12-point deficit. He’s averaging 24.9 points and shooting 57.0 percent over the last seven games.
“We fought hard all game long to get to that position, and Brook did a great job getting us a bucket,” guard Devin Harris said after New Jersey improved to 3-1 on a five-game homestand.
Lopez got more buckets than Gay during a 101-94 victory in Memphis on Dec. 21, scoring 26 points on 8-of-14 shooting while Gay finished with 11 points and shot 4 of 16.
Gay was coming off a one-game suspension for a flagrant foul in that contest, but his struggles against the Nets (13-32) are nothing new. In nine career matchups, he’s averaged 15.7 points and shot 39.1 percent, his worst percentage versus any opponent.
Gay, however, has averaged 26.0 points and made 56.4 percent from the floor in his last two trips to New Jersey. He scored a team-best 29 in a 104-94 win at the Prudential Center on Feb. 21.
Lopez has shot 57.9 percent in his five games against Memphis (22-23). He went 11 of 14 from the field and scored a team-best 26 points in last season’s home loss to the Grizzlies.
Memphis’ Zach Randolph will be looking to extend his franchise-record streak of double-doubles to 12. He’s averaging 23.3 points and 14.5 rebounds during that run.
The Grizzlies won four in a row from Dec. 8-15. They’re looking for a season-high third consecutive road victory, which would be their longest such streak since a franchise-record seven-game run Feb. 17-March 10.
Updated January 25, 2011
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