Grizzlies still trying to contend without Rudy Gay


Grizzlies still trying to contend without Rudy Gay

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies have shown once before they can be contenders without Rudy Gay.

It's time to prove it again.

The Grizzlies started the process of moving on Thursday after trading their leading scorer to Toronto in a three-team deal that brought Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye and Ed Davis to Memphis.

The franchise's best postseason run came with Gay injured two seasons ago, with an upset of top-seeded San Antonio and then a thrilling seven-game Western Conference semifinal series against Oklahoma City. Before that, Memphis had never even won a playoff game.

``I don't think we're too scared. I think we've been here before without him,'' point guard Mike Conley said Thursday at the team's shootaround before a game at Oklahoma City.

``We've been without Zach (Randolph). We've had guys go down and we've had to deal with it. This team is great at playing with adversity,'' he added. ``Hopefully, we can kind of mock what we did when Rudy was out that year and we made the playoff run and play that style of basketball.''

Gay was out with a shoulder injury when Memphis fell a win short of the 2011 West finals - a series that included a triple-overtime loss. That created hope that Gay's return would push the Grizzlies over the top. Instead, they exited in the first round of last year's playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers and have settled into fourth place in the West this season - albeit with the best first half of a season in team history.

``We're still one of the best teams in the league,'' general manager Chris Wallace said at a news conference at the FedExForum. ``I don't believe we have taken a back seat in that regard. There's a tremendous amount of basketball still to be played here this season in Memphis, and hopefully a nice run in the playoffs as well.''

The pressure of luxury tax penalties mounting led to the Gay deal, which also included backup center Hamed Haddadi going to Toronto. The Grizzlies also got a second-round pick in the trade, and point guard Jose Calderon went from the Raptors to Detroit.

It was Memphis' second budget-minded deal in just over a week, after reserves Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby were sent to Cleveland - along with a future first-round draft pick - for Jon Leuer and a trade exception.

Before the season, the Grizzlies opted not to re-sign O.J. Mayo and let him leave as a free agent.

``When you have champagne taste, you can't be on a beer budget,'' coach Lionel Hollins said, before going on to say he understands the challenges Memphis faces as one of the NBA's smaller markets.

Hollins, who advocated keeping the starting five together and is in the final year of his contract, said ``time will tell'' if the Grizzlies are a better team after the trade.

``I think we're still a good team. Other people can cry the blues about this, that and the other,'' Hollins said.

Hollins didn't give a ringing endorsement to any of the Grizzlies' new players, taking instead a show-me-what-you've-got approach. Even with Prince, a 10-year veteran, he said Memphis only faced him at most twice a year and he couldn't provide an assessment yet.

As for the success in 2011, Hollins quickly pointed out that Memphis added Shane Battier after Gay's injury to fill that void.

``He was a big part of why we won, and hopefully Tayshaun Prince can come in and contribute on a level that can help us continue to be competitive and successful in the West,'' Hollins said.

The Grizzlies still have a solid core to build around, with the All-Star tandem of Randolph and Marc Gasol in the frontcourt. Randolph was picked to the All-Star team for the second time in three years this season, and Gasol was picked last season while Randolph was hurt.

Despite leading Memphis in scoring, Gay was never an All-Star.

``I feel like we've still got our All-Star bigs. Tayshaun is a champion, an All-Star as well,'' guard Tony Allen said. ``His resume speaks for itself. He's been proven to this league.

``I think our ambition stays the same. Our motives are still to get as far as we can into the playoffs,'' Allen said. ``Each game that we have coming up, we intend to win.''

The newcomers weren't ready to join the Grizzlies for their game Thursday night at Oklahoma City. At the earliest, they could play in a Friday night home game against Washington but all the players in the trade must first pass physicals.

``We've been a contender. I believe we still are a contender,'' Randolph said. ``A lot of people counted us out, but I think we're still right where we was at. We got good players back, good up-and-coming players. We got a solidified player who has won championships and knows how to play and play defense and shoot pretty good from the field and from the 3-point line in Tayshaun.''

One lingering issue is whether the Grizzlies, under new ownership that has committed to keeping the team in Memphis, are done with their cost-cutting or if more big moves could be ahead.

``We're hopeful that this is the end of the trade scene for us but it's a business and you never know. One day we're here and one day we're not,'' Conley said. ``We've just got to make do with what we've got and go forward.''

Wallace said the new owners are ``in it to win'' and the trade is not an indication that they are selling out because they can't afford to run the franchise.

``That's not my call or anything like that,'' Gasol added. ``We have to play. We have to play and we have to win. It doesn't matter who's on the court and who's not.''


AP freelance writer Clay Bailey contributed to this report from Memphis, Tenn.

Simms' 11 points lifts VCU over Missouri St.

USA Today Sports Images

Simms' 11 points lifts VCU over Missouri St.

RICHMOND, Va. -- Mike'L Simms had 11 points as VCU extended its home win streak to eight games, beating Missouri State 61-51 on Sunday night.

De'Riante Jenkins had 10 points for VCU (8-2).

After VCU outscored Missouri State 35-25 in the first half, both teams scored 26 in the second as the home team clinched the victory. The Rams' 26 second-half points marked a season low for the team.

Isiaih Mosley had 15 points for the Bears (6-6). Keandre Cook added 12 points. Gaige Prim had 10 points.

VCU takes on College of Charleston on the road on Wednesday. Missouri State matches up against Oral Roberts on the road on Saturday.


Quick Links

Capitals at Blue Jackets Game 35: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

NBC Sports Washington

Capitals at Blue Jackets Game 35: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

The Washington Capitals are off to a good start on the road following Saturday night’s wing against the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2. 

It was two quick goals late in the third period by Lars Ellers and Garnet Hathaway that sealed the deal for Washington. 

The Caps look to win their second straight road game and fifth straight win in Columbus against the Blue Jackets. 

We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about the Monday night face-off that takes placed at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.


What: Washington Capitals at Columbus Blue Jackets

Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH

When: Monday, December 16th at 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals at Blue Jackets game will be broadcast on NBC Sports. (NBC Sports channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals at Blue Jackets on NBC Sports live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7


5:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live

5:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

7:00 PM: Capitals @ Blue Jackets (LIVE)

8:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

11:00 PM: Caps Overtime Live

10:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live


Capitals: None 

Blue Jackets: D Ryan Murray, Upper body injury, day-to-day

RW Josh Anderson, Upper body injury, day-to-day

LW Sonny Milano, Upper-body injury, day-to-day

RW Emil Bemstrom, Ribs injury, indefinitely

D Zach Werenski, Shoulder injury, indefinitely

RW Kole Sherwood, Oblique injury, indefinitely

D Markus Nutivaara, Oblique injury, day-to-day

LW Brandon Dubinsky,  Wrist injury, indefinitely 


T.J. Oshie, RW, Caps (14,12,26)
T.J. Oshie ended up with a plus-2 rating, three blocked shots, a minor penalty and a hit in his 17:56 of ice time across 21 shifts following the Caps win over the Lightning. He was even good for a goal and an assist in Saturday's 5-2 road victory against the Tampa Bay. 

Ilya Samsonov, G, Capitals (8-2-1)
Ilya Samsonov allowed only two goals on Tampa Bay’s 28 shots in Saturday's 5-2 road victory against the Lightning. The rookie has improved to 8-2-1 with a 2.38 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in 10 starts and 11 appearances so far this season. 

Joonas Korpisalo, G, Blue Jackets (12-10-3)
In the Blue Jackets’ overtime loss to the Senators, Korpisalo stopped 17 shots. The last time that these two teams met  Korpisalo made 37 saves.