Timberwolves road woes worsen

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Pau Gasol had 19 points and 10 rebounds, Chucky Atkins added 17 points, and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the injury-depleted Minnesota Timberwolves 92-76.

Memphis won for the fourth time in five games and moved a half-game ahead of the idle Los Angeles Clippers for the fifth playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Bobby Jackson finished with 16 points for the Grizzlies, Jake Tsakalidis contributed 12, and Mike Miller scored 10. Gasol added six assists.

Minnesota was without leading scorer and rebounder Kevin Garnett; Ricky Davis, second-leading scorer and team leader in assists, and a supporting cast of Anthony Carter and Troy Hudson. That’s an average of 54 points and almost 20 rebounds that didn’t make the trip to Memphis.

Justin Reed led the Timberwolves with 14 points on 7-of-11 from the field. Rashad McCants scored 11 points and Marcus Banks added 10.

The Timberwolves have lost four of five overall and 14 straight on the road. Minnesota has not won away from home since Feb. 6.

The absences gave Minnesota adequate reasons to continue giving younger players extra minutes.

Memphis had a double-digit lead in the first quarter, and Minnesota never threatened the rest of the way.

Memphis built its 18-point first-half lead as Atkins hit his first four shots, all from outside the arc. The Grizzlies connected on seven of their first 11 from long range.

Memphis carried a 44-29 lead into halftime as Atkins scored 14 and Gasol added 12 points.

Banks had all 10 points for the Timberwolves in the first half.

The domination continued after halftime, with Tsakalidis getting into the act for eight straight points in the third period, helping Memphis maintain its 20-point lead through much of the quarter. The Grizzlies carried a 68-50 lead into the fourth.

Notes: Gasol played in his 376 game for the Grizzlies, passing Shareef Abdur-Rahim for third on the franchise list. … Of the last five games on the Grizzlies’ schedule, only the Clippers have a winning record. … The Grizzlies are trying to go into the playoffs with momentum this year. In the previous two seasons, Memphis limped into the playoffs with records of 1-5 and 1-6. … McCants limped to the locker room with just over 9 minutes left in the fourth with a sprained right ankle. He did not return. … Memphis G Eddie Jones was 1-of-5 in the game, making him 11-for-45 from the field in his last six games.

AP-ES-04-11-06 2234EDT

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