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Brooklyn Nets take on Memphis Grizzlies in battle of contenders


Yes, contenders, for both. When you're 2.5 games behind the conference leaders, you're a contender. And the Grizzlies have a better record than the Nets. They may be farther behind the leaders, but still they're a very, very good team. After playing some mediocre ball the last two weeks, Memphis has beat the Bulls on the road and the Lakers (such as they are) at home, losing to the Pacers by one on the road..

The boxscores tell a story of a deep team, but also one that is inconsistent and one whose leadership has to be questioned. In the Lakers win, Darrell Arthur has 20 points and nine rebounds; Mike Conley Jr., finished with 19 points. Team scoring leaders Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay combined for 24 points and 21 boards. Versus the defensive-minded Bulls, it was Marc Gasol with 19 points on 10 shots, while Gay and Randolph had 29 .... on 39 shots.Randolph also has 19 boards.

They're a very solid defensive club, helped by their offensive rebounding. With a front court of Randolph, Gasol and Gay, they rank second in offensive boards. You'd better take care of the ball, too, or the Grizzlies will make you pay. They're second in steals per game and third in forcing turnovers. Their weaknesses start with scoring and if you can stay close, you're going to do well. They're dead last in fourth quarter scoring.

Speaking of Gay, although there were plenty of rumors last weekend about the Nets interest, the Grizzlies new GM said Thursday he liked the current roster and was unlikely to make a move. They got under the luxury tax threshold on Tuesday by trading Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby to the Cavaliers for John Leuer and a swap of picks.

As for the Nets, their luck with injuries injuries. They will have 12 of their 14 players on the bench, with Tyshawn Taylor and Tokoi Shengelia down on the farm where they will be for the remainder of the road trip, at least three games.