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Grizzlies clinch seventh straight playoff berth

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Mike Conley scored 28 points, Zach Randolph added 22 points and 12 rebounds, and the Memphis Grizzlies clinched a playoff spot with a 99-90 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night.

Memphis’ win, coupled with Denver’s 122-114 loss at Charlotte earlier Friday night, earned the Grizzlies their seventh straight postseason berth.

But Memphis had to weather a 3-point shooting rally in the closing minutes. Dallas made six of its first nine 3-point attempts in the final frame, a jumper by Wesley Matthews cutting Memphis’ advantage to 94-90 with just over a minute left.

But Dallas could get no closer, dropping its fourth straight.

Troy Daniels finished with 21 points for Memphis, shooting 7 of 12 from outside the arc.

Six Mavericks finished in double figures, led by 13 points each from Dirk Nowitzki, Matthews and J.J. Barea. Matthews also had seven assists, and Nowitzki grabbed 12 rebounds.

Dallas trailed by 15 with about 8 minutes left when Barea and Matthews converted consecutive 3-pointers. Another 3 from Yogi Ferrell – his only points of the game – brought the Mavericks’ deficit to single-digits.

Nowitzki, Barea and Matthews would add a trio of 3-pointers over a 1-minute span late to pull Dallas close, but not close enough.

The Mavericks dealt with poor shooting to open both of the first two quarters, missing five of six shots to start the game and six straight to open the second quarter.

The second set of misfires contributed to a 16-2 run and an eventual 21-point Memphis lead. Dallas was at 22 percent shooting in the half, including hitting 2 of 16 shots outside the arc.

That led to Memphis carrying a 55-34 lead into the break, Conley collecting 14 points, while Daniels and Randolph scored 12 each.

No Mavericks were in double figures at that point.

After halftime, it was Memphis struggling to hit shots, setting off a 16-4 rally by Dallas to bring the deficit to single digits – 59-50. But the Grizzlies countered with eight straight points to take the lead back to 17.

That allowed Memphis to hold a 74-62 lead entering the fourth.

TIP-INS

Mavericks: The NBA announced Friday that G Devin Harris was fined $25,000 for his actions after ejection from Wednesday’s game at New Orleans. … The Mavericks recorded 15 assists, breaking a string of nine straight games of at least 20 assists.

Grizzlies: With its seventh straight playoff berth, Memphis has the third-longest streak of postseason appearances behind Atlanta and San Antonio. … The win assured Memphis (42-34) of its seventh consecutive winning season. … The Grizzlies’ sixth 3-pointer of the game, converted in the second quarter, gave Memphis 700 on the season – a mark not previously reached in franchise history.

GASOL RETURN UNKNOWN

Grizzlies coach David Fizdale said the timetable for the return of center Marc Gasol, who missed his fourth game with a sore left foot, remains unclear. “He did work out (Friday), which was good,” Fizdale said. “He moved on it. There’s still some soreness there.”

TAKING A LOOK

With the Mavericks virtually eliminated from the last Western Conference playoff spot, coach Rick Carlisle seems to be turning to younger players down the stretch. “This is an important time for us to look at these guys,” Carlisle said. “I’d rather look at them playing against guys like (Mike) Conley or (Zach) Randolph instead of undrafted free agents in the summertime.”

ROOKIE POINTS

One Mavericks rookie – Jarrod Uthoff from Iowa – scored two points in the loss Wednesday to New Orleans, his first points in the NBA. “That’s a pretty big deal for a guy who has the NBA dream like all of us did growing up,” Carlisle said. Uthoff didn’t play Friday night.

UP NEXT

MAVERICKS: Dallas is in the midst of a five-game road trip and plays at Milwaukee on Sunday.

GRIZZLIES: Memphis heads out on its final road trip of the season, playing the Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Draymond Green thought Warriors might trade him after fight with Steve Kerr

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Draymond Green is the backbone of the Golden State Warriors, not just because he was the 2016-17 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Green sort of does it all, including passing, scoring, rebounding, and myriad other scrap work that doesn’t show up on regular box scores.

But there was some doubt in Green’s mind in 2016 that he would stay with the team. Green was involved in an argument during a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and after things settled down the Warriors big man was concerned the team might trade him.

The thought of doing so is sort of ridiculous, but apparently that was something that flashed into Green’s mind given the tenseness of the situation between he and Kerr.

Via Bleacher Report:

But Green’s mood was still foul, and he left the arena that day believing his days as a Warrior were numbered. He feared the relationship had been fractured, that the Warriors would choose Kerr over him. That he’d be traded.

“One hundred percent,” Green tells B/R. “Especially with the success that he was having as a coach. Like, you just don’t get rid of that.”

The thing that makes Golden State great isn’t just the players, or the system, or Kerr. It’s the human resources management aspect of their organization that allows them to compete on the court in the way they do.

It’s not crazy to think that a player could be shipped out of town thanks to a disagreement with a coach, although the leverage players have these days likely has put a stop to that realistically happening. But that Kerr, Green, and management were able to get things back under control that season was to the benefit of everyone involved.

Rockets wear jersey patch to honor Santa Fe High School vs. Warriors

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The Houston Rockets have been supportive of the Texas community after a gunman killed 10 people and injured 10 others at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas.

Rockets point guard Chris Paul called NBA basketball “minor” compared to what those in Santa Fe are having to endure, and on Thursday the team took things a step further and donned special jerseys for their playoff matchup against the Golden State Warriors.

As Houston prepared to take on the reigning champs in Game 5 back in Texas, the team tweeted out a photo of the jerseys — complete with a special patch on the left shoulder — to honor the victims of the shooting.

Via Twitter:

The NBA has a lot of advocates for social and political change, not just individually but organizationally. How the Rockets responded is good to see in the face of yet another school shooting.

Andre Iguodala out for Warriors again in Game 5; Klay Thompson available

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The Warriors missed Andre Iguodala in Game 4 against Houston. They don’t have a Death/Hamptons 5 lineup without him. Without his depth, the Warriors had to lean more on players such as Kevon Looney (who started), Nick Young, and others who are can be a liability at the high level of play in this series. Not having Iguodala to keep minutes down, play fierce defense, move the ball on offense, and be a stabilizing force was one of the issues that led to the Warriors fourth-quarter issues in Game 4.

Now they are without him for Game 5, too.

Having Klay Thompson on the court is huge for Golden State, although it will be worth monitoring to see how he moves.

The Warriors have gotten sucked into the switching/isolation game the Rockets want to play, if they are going to take Game 5 on the road they need to get back to “the beautiful game” they want to play. That would have been easier with Iguodala.

Two years after NBA retirement, Amar’e Stoudemire talking comeback

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NBA teams seemed to have moved on from Amar’e Stoudemire. After an impressive NBA career — five-time All-NBA, Rookie of the Year, six-time All-Star — he wasn’t physically the explosive player that dazzled with the Suns. Teams were interested in getting younger and more athletic, and Stoudemire was doing neither. He retired from the NBA and played for a season in Israel where he won a league title. This summer he’s signed up to play with the Big3.

After that he’,d like another crack at the NBA. When asked about an NBA comeback, here’s what Stoudemire told CBS Sports’ Bill Reiter on ‘Reiter’s Block’:

“I am. I am. I’m definitely planning on (coming back). I’ve been training like you wouldn’t believe, my body feels great. I had an amazing year last year playing overseas and so I’m gonna definitely continue to work my way back to top shape and see if there’s a team that needs my talents.”

I’m not sure there’s going to be much demand. Maybe a team does an old friend a favor and brings him in for some workouts. However, his knees and body struggled with the physical grind of the NBA the final few seasons of his career, and it’s unlikely with age that got better. No doubt he’s worked on his conditioning and strength, but Father Time always wins the race and it already felt like this chase was over.

That said, good on Stoudemire for not giving up on the dream. His agent should be making calls, maybe he can become the second player to make the Big3 to NBA leap.