MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – The Memphis Grizzlies went long distance to break open a close game. Memphis, 22nd in the league in 3-point shooting, hit 5 of 6 from 3-point range in the fourth quarter to beat the Detroit Pistons 100-83 on Saturday night.
O.J. Mayo scored 17 points, going 4 of 5 outside the arc and connecting on all three attempts in the fourth quarter, when Memphis scored 17 unanswered points.
“We’re not a big 3-point shooting team, but, believe it or not, we have 3-point shooters on this team,” said Memphis guard Mike Conley, the only Memphis player to miss a long-range attempt down the stretch. “Our philosophy is so much inside-out that we just don’t look to shoot the ball at the 3-point line.”
That was reflected in the scoring from the Grizzlies front line starters. Marc Gasol had 17 points and nine rebounds. Marreese Speights scored 16 points, and Rudy Gay added 15. Quincy Pondexter had 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, while Conley finished with 10 points and 12 assists. Rodney Stuckey led the Pistons with 20 points, although he was 6 of 22 from the field. Brandon Knight scored 15, and Greg Monroe had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Tayshaun Prince added 13 points.
The Memphis shooting in the fourth period – 11 of 20 for 55 percent – allowed the Grizzlies to outscore Detroit 31-13. Memphis forced seven turnovers in the frame.
“Defensively, the Grizzlies stepped up their game in the last 6 minutes,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. “Because of their pressure, we lost our poise and had a hard time getting off quality shots. With their defensive aggressiveness, we lost momentum, and they took advantage of it.”
Despite hitting only eight of 25 shots in the third period, the Pistons carried a 70-69 lead into the fourth. Neither team held more than a one-possession lead through the first half of the final period before Memphis’ big run. Mayo made a pair of 3-pointers, while Pondexter had one and a three-point play in the rally.
By the time the Pistons’ scoring drought of just under 6 minutes ended, the Grizzlies had pulled away to an insurmountable 15-point advantage.
“It was just awesome,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said of his team’s defensive play. “I thought we switched. We challenged shots. We got steals. Our energy level just rose.
“Through all of the foul trouble and all the things that were going on throughout the game, we stored it up, and, on that stretch, we exploded.”
The Grizzlies shot 49 percent, while the Pistons were held to 38 percent. Memphis also forced 21 turnovers, leading to 25 points.
“We just have to take care of the ball,” Stuckey said. “We turned the ball over a lot at the end of the game. I think if we would just take care of the ball and spread the court out a little more, we would have been fine.
“In the first half, we got pretty much whatever we wanted.”
The Pistons used 12 points from Stuckey and 10 from Prince to carry a 47-46 lead into the break. Detroit had 12 turnovers and the Grizzlies had 10.
Memphis held its biggest lead of the half at 40-32 on a 6-foot jumper from Speights with 7:31 left before the break. But the Pistons clicked off seven straight points, giving Detroit the momentum for its halftime lead.
The teams stayed close until Memphis’ fourth-quarter rally, and the unexpected accuracy from outside the arc.
“On any given night, it’s another player that steps up,” Pondexter said. “You never know how you are going to win games in this league, but as long as you win them, that’s all that matters.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)