PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — While guard Mike Conley says the Memphis Grizzlies are pushing for home court advantage in the playoffs, coach Lionel Hollins maintains it doesn’t really matter.
History tells Hollins so.
“The players may think about it but I just want us to play well,” he said. “We had some court last year and we lost the series. We’ve been in series where we didn’t have home court and we won. Wherever you go you’ve just got to play well.”
Conley scored 20 points and the Grizzlies beat the short-handed Trail Blazers 94-76 on Wednesday night to break the franchise record for wins in a season.
“We were all about business tonight,” Conley said. “We understood that this is a game we needed to win. Obviously, we are chasing that home court advantage so need we need every one we can get.”
The Grizzlies have won four straight to move to 51-24 this season, surpassing its 50-win season in 2003-04.
They have already clinched a spot in the playoffs and are jockeying for home-court advantage in the first round. Memphis sits in fifth place in the Western Conference, a game and a half back of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Zach Randolph, who played his first six seasons with Portland from 2001-07, added 17 points and eight rebounds for Memphis.
The Blazers, who are effectively out of the playoffs with seven games left, were without two starters, LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum. As a result, the team started rookies Victor Claver, Meyers Leonard and Damian Lillard.
Memphis took advantage and led by as many as 18 in the first half. Portland (33-42) got within single digits midway through the third quarter, but could not catch up.
Lillard and J.J. Hickson led the Blazers with 17 points apiece.
“We just have to play for each other,” Hickson said. “You sit in the locker room and you look at guys, you look at the guy next to you. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about playing and not giving in.”
The Grizzlies were without rookie guard Tony Wroten because of a migraine. But earlier in the day, Memphis announced that it had signed 12-year veteran Keyon Dooling to add depth to the roster for the playoffs.
Dooling retired last September after playing for the Boston Celtics last season. Over his career, Dooling has averaged 7.0 points, 1.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists. He played the final 1 minute, 55 seconds and missed a 3-point attempt with 37 seconds left.
Aldridge was missing his fourth straight game because of a sprained right ankle. The two-time All-Star is averaging 21 points and 8.9 rebounds this season.
Batum has a labral tear in his right shoulder, causing him decreased strength and sensation. He apparently sustained the injury on Monday in Portland’s 112-102 loss to Utah.
The 6-foot-8 French forward, who is averaging 14.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists, will be re-evaluated Friday before the Blazers host Houston.
Austin Daye hit a 3-pointer early in the second quarter that gave the Grizzlies a 39-23 lead. Randolph’s hook shot extended it to 43-25, and Memphis took a 57-46 advantage into the half.
“I thought it was a solid win,” Hollins said. “Early on offensively we were executing very well and we were getting whatever shot we wanted. Then in the second half our defense really amped it up. We held them to 30 points in the second half. We just had a good focus and we played a solid game all over.”
The Grizzlies visit the Lakers on Friday.
Notes: Former Blazers C Greg Oden was at the game because he is good friends with Conley. The two played together at Ohio State. Oden, a former No. 1 draft pick for Portland whose five-year career with the team was marred by injuries, was greeted with cheers — and a few boos — when he was shown on the video scoreboard in the first quarter. Oden did not appear to return for the second half. … Portland made just six free throws, its fewest in a game this season. They attempted 10. … The Blazers are the only NBA team with four 1,000-point scorers this season: Aldridge (1,451), Lillard (1,425), Batum (1,047) and Wesley Matthews (1,001).
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.