NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — There’s nothing complex about the Memphis Grizzlies. They just play old-fashioned basketball.
It’s defense first, and offense by committee. Rudy Gay leads the way most of the time but anyone can step up in the clutch. Tony Allen and Marresse Speights did it against the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday night.
Gay scored 25 points, Tony Allen matched his season high with 21 and Speights had a season-best 20 points and a career-high 18 rebounds in a 105-100 victory that sent the Nets to a season-high seventh straight loss.
“At the end of the day it’s about the Grizzlies getting a W, whether it’s pretty or ugly,” said Allen, who also matched his season high with five steals. “We try to do it together. This is a team thing. Ain’t nothing pretty for us. We’re not going to come out here like the Lakers, where one guy can get it done. We have numerous guys who can get it done.”
Mike Conley added 16 points and 10 assists for the Grizzlies, who won for the fourth time in five games despite giving up 100 points for only the fourth time this season.
“We all have our roles and we have nights where our guys fill their role and more,” Gay said. “That’s what `Mo’ did today and Tony did the same thing.”
Speights, acquired from Philadelphia in January, was big in the second half, scoring 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting and adding 10 of his 18 rebounds. His previous career high was 15.
“A lot of people said I couldn’t do this and do that, so this is a fresh opportunity,” Speights said.
Deron Williams scored 20 of his 26 points in the first half for the Nets, who committed four turnovers in the final 2:40 in handing the game to Memphis. Anthony Morrow added 17 points, hitting 3 of 8 from long range.
Neither team led by more than three points in the opening 10 minutes of the fourth quarter with Allen putting the Grizzlies ahead for good at 95-93 with a 3-pointer from the right wing with 2:57 to play. It was only his fourth 3-pointer of the season.
“I’m not going to turn down any shots,” said Allen, who was 3 of 7 from long range coming into the game. “As hard as I work on the defensive end, you give a dog a bone every now and then, so I shot it with confidence and it went in.”
After Williams and Morrow miscommunicated on a pass for a turnover, Gay missed a jumper. With a chance to tie it again, MarShon Brooks missed Williams with a pass and Gay made them pay this time with a jumper for a 97-93 lead with 1:53 to go.
“It was tough, we got a little careless with the ball,” said Morrow, who will complete in the 3-point competition at the All Star game. “Me and Deron one time weren’t on the same page and it was probably my fault. I just read my man wrong.”
Once again Williams threw a pass away on the ensuing possession and Allen scored on a layup to push the lead to six at 99-93 with 1:38 left and the Nets never got close again.
“The difference between where we want to be at and where we are right now, right now we are a team that turns the ball over three of four possessions with the game on the line,” said forward Kris Humphries, who added 10 points. “It’s no one’s fault, in particular, we just have to tighten and be able to play under pressure in the fourth quarter. There is no play you can draw up for that. We just have to play basketball and execute. We didn’t give ourselves a chance to win.”
Trailing 77-69 with 4:20 to play in the third quarter, the Nets closed the period with a 9-0 run that Sundiata Gaines capped with a 3-pointer.
The Nets played one of their best halves of the season in the first 24 minutes. Williams scored 20 points and the Nets shot nearly 53 percent but the performance only gave them a two-point lead.
Memphis even picked up some late momentum when Gay hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cap a 16-point half and get the Grizzlies to within 55-53. Memphis led most of the third quarter but it missed its final seven shots and trailed by a point entering the final 12 minutes.
NOTES: Gay had a highlight reel reverse dunk late in the first half when set up by Conley on a 2-on-0 break. …Nets backup point guard Jordan Farmar was a late scratch with a groin injury, leaving New Jersey with only nine players, including Andre Emmett who was signed to a 10-day contract earlier this week. … New Jersey won both games with Memphis last season. …The Nets honored the late Whitney Houston by playing her rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” from the 1991 Super Bowl before the game. … Memphis is 8-1 vs. sub .500 teams.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)