Smarting from watching his Kansas Jayhawks get bounced from the NCAA tournament a couple of hours before game time, Darrell Arthur went out and had his best game of the season in the Grizzlies 123-107 win over the Golden State Warriors, Saturday night at FedExForum.
Arthur missed the first half of the season recovering from a pectoral muscle tear, and was clearly not in mid-season form when he first returned. But he has hit his stride now, bringing some much needed help to the bench’s front line. Arthur’s 16 points and 13 rebounds in 26 minutes was a big contribution to a high-scoring game.
The game turned on the third quarter, when the Grizzlies took a five point halftime lead and stretched it out to as much as 21 points. The closest margin after that was the final score. Mike Conley was dominant in the third with eleven points but O. J. Mayo and Zach Randolph also did their share of the damage.
Six players scored in double figures, led by Rudy Gay’s 25. O. J. Mayo added 21 points a five assists, four of them in the crucial third period run, and Zach Randolph had a typical All-Star night: 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Playoff status update: after Saturday’s games, the Grizzlies (37-33) remain five games behind eighth place Portland (42-28) for the Western Conference’s final playoff berth. Houston (35-32) is half a game back of the Grizzlies, but a game better in the loss column. The New Orleans Hornets (33-38) are fading fast, now nine and a half games behind Portland. The Grizzlies’ increasingly slim playoff hopes lie in a strong finish, combined with a collapse by either Portland or San Antonio (41-26, half a game ahead of Portland).
The Grizzlies will spend the next week and a half on the road, with games at Sacramento on Monday, Golden State on Wednesday, and (after their second-to-last multi-day break between games of the season) Sunday at Milwaukee. The brutal finishing stretch starts Wednesday, March 31st with a home game against the Dallas Mavericks. Starting then, the Grizzlies finish with nine games in 15 days, including two back-to-backs, mostly against equal or better teams, according to their records.