The Associated PressMEMPHIS (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies finally got to celebrate a win after almost a month of misery.
But the relief of their first victory since Nov. 7 had to wait as the team and their fans held their collective breaths until one last misfire by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Marc Gasol scored 21 points and Tyreke Evans added 16, including the two game-clinching free throws with 12.7 seconds left as the Grizzlies snapped an 11-game losing streak 95-92 on Monday night.
The Timberwolves still had a chance to tie after Evans’ free throws, but Jimmy Butler’s off-balance 3-point attempt over Andrew Harrison with 1.3 seconds remaining bounced off the glass, grazed the rim and fell harmlessly away from the basket, preserving the Grizzlies first win since defeating Portland about four weeks ago.
“I just didn’t want him to get a clean look at the 3,” Harrison said. “I just wanted to make it as tough as possible.”
Butler, who led the Timberwolves with 30 points in his second straight game reaching at least 30 points, said he thought the shot had a chance.
“I think every shot I take is a good look,” Butler said. “You’ve got to take it, and go on to the next one.”
Taj Gibson finished with 14 points, while Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague added 12 points each, Wiggins going 6 of 17 from the floor.
The game was close throughout with 14 lead changes and a dozen ties, the last coming at 86-all with 5:43 remaining. After a pair of free throws from Gasol, Memphis never surrendered the lead the rest of the way, although the margin didn’t reach more than three points.
“Our defense in the first half hurt us badly,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I thought it was a little better in the second half. We didn’t come up with any loose balls at the end, and that could have separated the game.”