MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies missed one chance to finish off their first-round series and get some much-needed rest before facing the Golden State Warriors.
They didn’t waste a second, especially on their own court.
Marc Gasol had 26 points and 14 rebounds as the Grizzlies advanced to the Western Conference semifinals by beating the Portland Trail Blazers 99-93 on Wednesday night, closing out the series 4-1.
“It feels great,” Gasol said. “It feels great to have a little time off to do some things around the house. I’m going to have a little time to be with my little girl. It’s actually great to be home.”
In the West semifinals for the third time in five years, the Grizzlies will play Game 1 on Sunday at top-seeded Golden State. Vince Carter said older players like himself appreciate the rest more than anybody.
“We wanted to go get the job done now, get some days of rest to get ready for the next tough series,” Carter said. “This is just a warmup for the next one, and the next one and the next one.”
Memphis closed it out despite not having point guard Mike Conley for a second straight game as he recovers from surgery to repair broken bones near his left eye.
Courtney Lee scored 20 points for Memphis, Zach Randolph had 16 and Jeff Green added 10 off the bench.
CJ McCollum led Portland with a career-high 33 points. Damian Lillard had 22 points, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 14 before fouling out late as they combined to shoot 13 of 37. The Trail Blazers lost in the first round for the seventh time in their last eight postseasons after reaching the West semifinals last year.
“The season was going to be a very special season,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “Unfortunately some things didn’t turn out the way we wanted to.”
The Grizzlies finished off the game hitting 10 of 14 free throws in the final 64 seconds.
“The guys were running on fumes,” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said of the fourth quarter. “I played guys a lot of minutes.”
Memphis led only 68-66 at the end of the third, and Portland had the seventh and last tie at 72 before Vince Carter put the Grizzlies ahead to stay with a fadeaway jumper. Aldridge got the Trail Blazers within 76-75 with a three-point play before Memphis went on a 9-0 run, pushing its lead back to double digits.
“We’re one of the top offensive teams in the league, and we never felt that rhythm,” Aldridge said. “That’s disappointing for us. We know that this team is a lot better than what we played. I’m mad about going home so early. I’m disappointed in not getting to the second round.”
The Grizzlies hit seven of their first nine shots in taking a 12-point lead in the opening minutes. Memphis then missed 13 of its first 17 shots in the second quarter but took a 46-39 lead into halftime.
The Blazers erased Memphis’ 13-point lead in the third with a 22-6 run. McCollum’s fourth 3 in the quarter gave Portland a 61-58 lead, though Memphis led 68-66 at the end of the third.
Trail Blazers: Portland has lost its last five Game 5s. … Aldridge, a free agent this summer, was 37 of 112 in this series. … McCollum tied a Blazers’ franchise record in the playoffs with four 3s in a quarter. He also became the first player in Portland history to score 15 or more off the bench in three straight playoff games since Mychal Thompson in April 1985. But he started the fourth 1 of 6.
Grizzlies: Memphis has won Game 5 in its last five playoff series. … The Grizzlies improved to 3-2 when having a chance to close out a series on its home court. … Memphis went 1 of 14 beyond the arc for its worst shooting game from 3 in this series. … The Grizzlies outscored Portland 22-10 in the paint in the second half and 44-30 for the game.
Conley made an appearance on the video board in the arena with 3:26 left during a timeout, with fans giving him a standing ovation. He then moved to the team bench for the finish. He said on TV that he had two metal plates inserted to fix the broken bones in his face and that his eye has been swollen shut but is improving. He went to the morning shootaround earlier Wednesday to be around his teammates.
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Pelicans forward Quincy Pondexter had a front row seat opposite the Memphis bench watching both Blazers forward Robin Lopez and his former teammates. Pondexter was with Memphis until January when he was swapped to New Orleans as part of a three-team trade bringing Green to the Grizzlies.
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