NBA Basketball

Nets-Grizzlies Preview

Before the Brooklyn Nets embarked on a hot streak, collapsing down the stretch was a key aspect of several losses.

One of those instances was at home to the Memphis Grizzlies on Nov. 30.

Five weeks after an excruciating double-overtime loss to the Grizzlies, the Nets head to Memphis on Friday night looking to maintain their momentum.

The Nets have 10 wins in their last 13 games following an eight-game losing streak from Nov. 21 to Dec. 5. Five of those losses were by single digits, including a 131-125 double-overtime loss to Memphis when Brooklyn blew a 10-point lead in the final four-plus minutes.

Brooklyn is now winning those kind of close games. As the Nets (18-21) approach .500, nine of their victories are by single-digits, including Wednesday's 126-121 home win over the New Orleans Pelicans that has Brooklyn right outside the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.

"I think you have to be realistic and you don't obviously want to look ahead too much, but if you said that we were going to be in this position I think everybody would have been pleased," Nets guard Joe Harris said.

"But now that we're here, it's all sort of a relative matter. I think we're looking at it that there are a lot of games that we really should have won. Three, four games in this position even bumps you up a couple more spots. There's a lot of season left, and we've got to keep playing the right way."

While struggling to contain Anthony Davis, who totaled 34 points and 26 rebounds, the Nets had enough contributors to beat New Orleans. D'Angelo Russell recorded his third double-double with 22 points and 13 assists. Harris added 21 as the Nets placed seven in double figures and received 55 points from their reserves.

The Nets continued to win while being shorthanded as Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (groin) and Allen Crabbe (knee) sat out. Crabbe will get his knee re-evaluated next week after the Nets announced he had a setback; Hollis-Jefferson may sit for a second straight game after getting hurt in the first quarter of Saturday's game at Milwaukee.

The Nets play nine of their next 15 on the road with a schedule that includes two stops in Boston, along with trips to Toronto, Houston and San Antonio.

"We have a tough road ahead here, especially shorthanded," Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. "If we can weather this storm, I think until we are fully healthy, maybe we can do something important."

In the first meeting, Mike Conley scored 13 of his 37 points after regulation and rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. totaled 36. Since then, the Grizzlies are 5-11, and frustration is starting to creep in.

On Wednesday, the Grizzlies (18-19) shot 34.2 percent in the second half and suffered a 101-94 home loss to the Detroit Pistons. It marked the 12th time since Nov. 30 that Memphis was held under 100 points. Since the win in Brooklyn, the Grizzlies have not scored more than 107 points.

After losing for the 10th time in 13 games, the Grizzlies held a lengthy postgame meeting, and coach J.B. Bickerstaff took more than 30 minutes to appear from the locker room. According to multiple reports, the meeting was so heated that Garrett Temple and Omri Casspi engaged in a physical altercation.

"A conversation that needed to be had that will stay between those of us that were in that locker room," Bickerstaff said.

Once the locker room was open to the media, only Marc Gasol and Mike Conley were available.

"We were openly sharing our thoughts and trying to fix the situation and getting back into being a really good basketball team together and doing the things we need to do consistently to win games," Gasol said.

The meeting occurred after Conley was held scoreless for the first time since Dec. 8, 2015, against Oklahoma City. Conley missed all eight of his shots and was dealing with a sore left shoulder after getting tangled with Andre Drummond going for a rebound.

"Honestly, I think it would not have ever been needed had my shoulder not felt the way it did from the eight-minute mark on in the first quarter," Conley said. "Losing causes a lot of frustration at the end of the day. If we had won tonight, nobody is talking."

One day after the brouhaha, Memphis traded shooting guards MarShon Brooks and Wayne Selden, along with two second-round picks, to Chicago for Justin Holiday, per multiple reports. Holiday is averaging 11.6 points and 4.4 rebounds this season while shooting 35.9 percent from 3-point range.

Updated January 3, 2019

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