MEMPHIS, Tennessee — The Memphis Grizzlies secured a berth in the NBA Western Conference semifinals by beating Portland 99-93 on Wednesday, completing a 4-1 series victory over the Trail Blazers.
Five of the final eight teams in the playoffs have now been decided, while Atlanta took a 3-2 lead over Brooklyn in one of the three first-round series which are yet to be settled.
Memphis’ Marc Gasol had 26 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Grizzlies was thrilled with the victory, and the chance for three days off before the conference semifinals against Golden State which starts Sunday.
In the West semifinals for the third time in five years, the Grizzlies realize it’s time to go further.
Memphis closed it out despite not having point guard Mike Conley for a second straight game as he recovers from surgery to repair broken bones near his left eye.
Courtney Lee scored 20 points for Memphis, Zach Randolph had 16 and Jeff Green added 10 off the bench.
C.J. McCollum led Portland with a career-high 33 points. Damian Lillard had 22 points, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 14 before fouling out late as they combined to shoot 13 of 37. The Trail Blazers lost in the first round for the seventh time in their past eight postseasons after reaching the West semifinals last year.
Memphis led only 68-66 at the end of the third, and the game was tied 72-72 before Carter put the Grizzlies ahead to stay with a fadeaway jumper. Aldridge got the Trail Blazers within 76-75 with a three-point play before Memphis went on a 9-0 run, pushing its lead back to double digits.
Atlanta won 107-97 at home against Brooklyn to take the upper hand in a 1st vs. 8th series that’s closer than most expected.
Al Horford shook off the discomfort of a dislocated finger and flew around the court in the fourth quarter when it looked like Brooklyn was on the verge of bouncing all the way back from an early 17-point deficit. In the final minute, Jeff Teague darted into the lane for a couple of baskets that sealed another hard-fought victory. Horford and Teague both finished with 20 points.
The Hawks can wrap up the series with a victory in Brooklyn on Friday, but the eighth-seeded Nets seem intent on taking it to the limit.
Alan Anderson led the Nets with 23 points off the bench. Jarrett Jack added 18 as the Brooklyn backups totally dominated Atlanta’s reserves.
DeMarre Carroll scored 24 points, pushing the Hawks out to a big lead. But the Nets, as they did in each of the first two games in Atlanta, came back to make it another close one.