PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Stung by the loss of point guard Mike Conley, the Grizzlies gritted out their latest victory over the Trail Blazers.
Memphis took a 3-0 lead in its first-round playoff series against Portland with a 115-109 victory on Saturday night. But it came with a cost: Conley left the game in the third quarter with a facial injury and was hospitalized for further evaluation.
The Grizzlies were already without backup point guard Beno Udrih, who sprained his right ankle in Game 2 and sat out Saturday’s game.
Game 4 is set for Monday in Portland.
“Without Mike, without Beno, I know how competitive we are,” said Marc Gasol. “I’m sure guys will be ready.”
Gasol finished with 25 points and seven rebounds, while Courtney Lee had 20 points and Zach Randolph added 16 against the team that drafted him.
Conley had 14 points before he appeared to be elbowed in the face by Portland CJ McCollum and fell to the floor. He was whisked to the locker room holding a towel to his face.
With Udrih also out, the Grizzlies turned to Nick Calathes, who finished with 13 points. Calathes averaged 4.2 points and just over 14 minutes in 52 games during the regular season.
The Grizzlies led by as many as 14 points, but Portland closed within 90-82 with 7:28 left after a trio of free throws from Nicolas Batum. Gasol responded with two jumpers to end the threat until Arron Afflalo’s 3-pointer pulled Portland to 94-87.
Batum’s 3-pointer got Portland as close as 94-91 with 2:23 left. But Tony Allen’s basket ended Portland’s 9-0 run and Randolph added free throws.
Allen’s fast-break dunk with 1:14 left all but sealed it for the Grizzlies. Batum had another 3-pointer to make it 100-94 but Portland couldn’t catch up.
“We had the momentum, we hit some shots, the crowd was behind us, and I thought it was going to be one of those games where we find a way to pull it out,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.
Batum finished with 27 points for the Blazers, who have dropped seven straight games, including four to wrap up the regular season. McCollum added 26.
Memphis made the most of getting home-court advantage for just the second time in the team’s playoff history, taking the first two games including Wednesday’s 97-82 victory in Game 2. The Grizzlies have won seven straight against Portland, sweeping the four-game regular season series.
Udrih, who had 20 points in the opener, hurt the ankle in the first half of Game 2, but returned in the third quarter and finished with 10 points. He warmed up Saturday night but ultimately didn’t play.
Kosta Koufos made a hook shot that gave Memphis its biggest lead of the first half, 40-28. Memphis went on to lead 62-49 at halftime, scoring 30 points in the paint and shooting 57.5 percent.
LaMarcus Aldridge struggled from the field in the first half, going just 1 of 10. He finished with 21 points.
Randolph’s layup midway through the third put the Grizzlies up 70-56.
“I’ve got to give credit to Memphis, they definitely forced us into some tough shots,” Aldridge said. “I was watching film from the first half: Every time I took a shot they had a guy right there, and sometimes three guys. They have some defensive goals and it’s tough.”
Afflalo returned to the Blazers after missing the first two games of the series with a right shoulder strain. After coming to the Blazers via a trade with Denver at the deadline, Afflalo was a key contributor when starter Wesley Matthews ruptured his Achilles in March and was lost for the season.
Grizzlies: The 62 first-half points are a playoff record for the team. … Memphis has never had a 3-0 lead in a playoff series. … The Grizzlies set a team playoff record by making 39 free throws; their 43 attempts were off of their playoff high of 47.
Trail Blazers: The only time the Blazers have rallied from a 2-0 deficit in a playoff series was in the 1977 NBA Finals. That remains Portland’s lone championship. … Blazers backup C Chris Kaman, who missed Wednesday night’s game against the Grizzlies because of a left ankle sprain, was listed as questionable for the game but played.
Wesley Matthews came out of the locker room before the rest of the Blazers wearing an “Iron Man” mask, in a nod to his nickname, putting the crowd at the Moda Center on its feet. The wounded Blazer was walking on his own without the help of the scooter he’s used in the past several days.
CALATHES STEPS IN
Coach Dave Joerger praised Calathes, who also plays for the Greek national team.
“I thought his composure was tremendous,” Joerger said. “He didn’t have a turnover, so to come in cold, get 13 points, three assists, no turnovers and run the club — he’s played in a lot of big games, you can tell — international competitions that he’s played in — he’s a very, very solid NBA point guard.”
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