AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Rudy Gay had 28 points and nine rebounds to help the Memphis Grizzlies withstand a weak start to the fourth quarter and beat the Minnesota Timberwolves for the eighth straight time, 91-84 on Tuesday night.
J.J. Barea scored a season-high 28 points on 5-for-9 shooting from 3-point range to go with eight assists and five rebounds, but the Timberwolves lost their 11th straight overall _ and 27th consecutive game in April. They have three more tries this season to stop that streak.
Zach Randolph added 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who moved within two games of the Los Angeles Clippers for fourth place in the Western Conference and crept closer toward clinching a playoff spot. Mike Conley added 16 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
The Grizzlies were 1 for 15 from the field in the fourth quarter until Gay's short jumper gave them the lead back at 82-81, right after a questioned charging foul was called on Anthony Tolliver that wiped out a layup and a potential three-point play. Tolliver and the Timberwolves were livid.
Gay added a putback and a dagger of a 3-pointer to make it 87-82, and out of a timeout Barea hoisted an off-target, off-balance 3-pointer that missed the rim. Wayne Ellington's reverse layup brought the Wolves back within three with 1:19 left, but that was as close as they came.
Nikola Pekovic had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Wolves, whose last April win was three years ago. They went 25 for 30 from the foul line to stay in it.
Marc Gasol played after suffering a bone bruise in his left knee the last game but had only four points on 2-for-8 shooting for the Grizzlies, who have won 11 of their last 15 games.
Barea played even more fired up after he was struck near the mouth in a scrap for the ball with Tony Allen early in the third quarter that opened up the cut he needed stitches on from a recent collision. After a timeout he swished a 3-pointer, stretching the Timberwolves' lead to 65-61 with a determined scowl on his face.
The Grizzlies came within two points of their season high for the first quarter, taking a 32-22 lead on O.J. Mayo's off-balance 3-pointer from the corner. This, though, was progress for the Wolves, who fell behind 32-7 at Indiana on Monday during a 111-88 defeat by the Pacers.
Barea, the Puerto Rican point guard whose first season in Minnesota has been marred by a slew of injuries, is about the only true scorer left on court with Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour all out. Including the fateful game against the Los Angeles Lakers on March 9 when Rubio's left knee buckled in the closing seconds, the Wolves are 4-19 in their last 23 games. Three of their last 10 losses have been by 20 points or more.
This was not that. Barea flipped a Rubio-like running bank shot high off the glass to close the first half and put the Wolves up 56-55. He has started the last eight games and is averaging 17.2 points and 9.8 assists in his last 10 games. He's 24 for 50 from 3-point range in that span.
Marreese Speights had 10 of his 12 points in the first quarter for the Grizzlies, who are 33-17 since acquiring the 24-year-old power forward in a three-team trade. The Grizzlies can still set their franchise record for season winning percentage if they're victorious in each of their last five games, four of which are at home.
NOTES: The Wolves are 1-26 in their last 27 April home games, dating to 2006.... Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins didn't understand the mystery about whether Gasol would play: "There's nothing wrong with him. He has a bruise," Hollins said before the game. ... Pekovic continues to be bothered by bone spurs in his right ankle, and coach Rick Adelman said the team would consider shutting him down for the final week of the season. "He's a pretty tough guy, and if it's really bothering him then it doesn't make sense to play him," Adelman said.
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