Grizzlies Slow Schroder, Take Down Hawks

ATLANTA — The primary goal for Memphis on Thursday night was to slow down Atlanta’s Dennis Schroder, one of the hottest point guards in the league. That success led to the Grizzlies’ third straight win.

Memphis veteran Mike Conley won the battle of the point guards against Schroder and forward Marc Gasol posted a triple-double to spark the Grizzlies to a 103-91 victory over the Hawks at Philips Arena.

Conley had 22 points with four rebounds, 12 assists and two steals. Conley scored on a layup with 3:47 left to restore the Grizzlies’ 12-point lead and quell any hopes of a late Hawks comeback.

“We made a conscious effort to keep (Schroder) out of the paint,” Conley said. “He’s such a good guard at penetrating and making plays and really is the guy who drives them offensively and defensively. We just tried to attack them and make him settle for outside shots and hope he missed them.”

Schroder, who averaged 23.5 points in the last four games, scored 10. He was 4 of 16 from the field and 1 of 6 on 3-pointers. Schroder was so ineffective that coach Mike Budenholzer pulled him with 10:42 left in the fourth quarter and never put him back in the game.

“Dennis has been so good for us. He’s been our engine,” Budenholzer said. “Tonight he wasn’t any different than our whole group.”

The win gave Memphis a split of the two-game series this season and broke a three-game losing streak to Atlanta. It was the first win for Memphis in Atlanta since 2014.

Memphis (39-30) also got 18 points from Gasol, who added 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his second triple-double of the season. JaMychal Green added 14 points and 12 rebounds.

“(Gasol) was just picked everybody apart on our defense,” Atlanta guard Tim Hardaway said. “We can’t allow that. He got going in the first quarter and kept going from there.”

Atlanta (37-31) was led by Hardaway with 18 points, four rebounds and three assists. Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince each scored 16. Three Hawks scored 10 — Paul Millsap, Schroder and Dwight Howard, who added 11 rebounds to post his 45th double-double of the season.

Memphis is within a half game of sixth place in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies haven’t given up on catching fourth-place Utah, whom they trail by four games. Memphis was thrashed by Atlanta five days ago.

Atlanta missed a chance to pick up a game on Toronto, which lost Thursday, and remains two games behind the Raptors for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

“We’re a different team from a week ago,” Conley said. “We’ve finally found our defensive identity again. We’re playing with a purpose, like we need to be, and getting a good win on a back-to-back in Atlanta is huge for us. We definitely needed it.”

The Hawks left Gasol alone on the perimeter to start the game and he scored nine quick points on jump shots. Atlanta called timeout, made Millsap responsible for Gasol, and he scored only two more points in the quarter. Atlanta led the fast-paced first quarter 28-26, with Millsap scoring eight.

The entire first half was close. Atlanta’s largest lead was six points and the widest margin for Memphis was three, the last coming with two seconds left when Green grabbed a missed shot and slammed it home to give the Grizzlies a 55-52 halftime lead.

The score was tied nine times and there were 21 lead changes in the first half.

The Grizzlies began the third quarter with an 13-4 run and took a 12-point lead when Tony Allen slammed home missed shot to make it 68-56.

Memphis led by as many as 18 points and was up 78-65 after three quarters. The Hawks scored late when Hardaway converted a three-point play.

“You always have to give Memphis credit for their defense,” Budenholzer said. “It just felt like one of those nights. We couldn’t catch the ball. We couldn’t shoot it. We couldn’t pass it.

“We just had an off night, with a lot of credit to Memphis and their defense. They were into us. They were physical. They got more 50-50 balls than we did. It just wasn’t our night.”

NOTES: Memphis out-rebounded Atlanta 48-38 and outscored the Hawks 17-9 in second-chance points. … Veteran Vince Carter started his third straight game for the Grizzlies in the wake of Chandler Parsons’ season-ending knee injury. Carter played 28 minutes, five more than his season average. … Atlanta G Mike Dunleavy missed his 11th straight game with a right ankle injury. The Hawks sent rookie F DeAndre Bembry to Salt Lake City for a D-League assignment. … Atlanta plays again at home on Saturday against Portland before starting a three-game road trip. Memphis returns home to play San Antonio on Saturday, then take off on a four-game road trip.

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