MEMPHIS — Marc Gasol had 26 points and 14 rebounds as the Memphis Grizzlies advanced to the Western Conference semifinals by beating the Portland Trail Blazers 99-93 on Wednesday night.
The Grizzlies reached the West semifinals for the third time in five years. They will play Game 1 on Sunday at Golden State.
Memphis closed out Portland in five games despite not having point guard Mike Conley for a second straight game as he recovers from surgery to repair broken bones near his left eye. Coach Dave Joerger said the Grizzlies take a great deal of pride in winning this series.
“For us to beat a team eight times in one year, that’s pretty difficult to do,” Joerger said. “I’m really proud of our guys because they aren’t slouching. That’s a tough team over there.”
Courtney Lee added 20 points for Memphis, Zach Randolph had 16 and Jeff Green added 10 off the bench.
CJ McCollum led Portland with a career-high 33 points. Damian Lillard had 22 points, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 14 before fouling out late as they combined to shoot 13 of 37. The Trail Blazers lost in the first round for the seventh time in their last eight postseasons after reaching the semifinals last year.
“Certainly they outplayed us and deserved to win the series,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “It’s always disappointing to end the season on a loss … I think this season was going to be a very special season. Unfortunately some things didn’t turn out the way we wanted to.”
The Grizzlies finished off the game hitting 10 of 14 free throws in the final 64 seconds, and Gasol blocked a jumper by Nicolas Batum with 6.9 seconds left to start the celebration.
Memphis led only 68-66 at the end of the third, and Portland had the seventh and last tie at 72 before Vince Carter put the Grizzlies ahead to stay with a fadeaway jumper. Aldridge got the Trail Blazers within 76-75 with a three-point play before Memphis went on a 9-0 run, pushing its lead back to double digits.
The Grizzlies hit seven of their first nine shots in taking a 12-point lead in the opening minutes. The Blazers were missing shots and turning the ball over, but Lillard, who missed his first four shots, had nine points in helping the Blazers tie it at 20 at the end of the first quarter.
Memphis missed 13 of its first 17 shots in the second quarter but took a 46-39 lead into halftime after finishing the quarter with no point guard on the floor, letting Lee and Carter handle the ball.
The Blazers erased Memphis’ 13-point lead in the third with a 22-6 run as McCollum hit six of his seven shots in the quarter, including four of five beyond the arc. His fourth gave Portland its biggest lead in the quarter at 61-58, though Memphis led 68-66 at the end of the third.
Trail Blazers: Portland now has lost its last five Game 5s. … Aldridge, a free agent this summer, was 37 of 112 in this series. … McCollum tied a Blazers’ franchise record in the playoffs with four 3s in a quarter. He also became the first player in Portland history to score 15 or more off the bench in three straight playoff games since Mychal Thompson in April 1985. But he started the fourth 1 of 6. … Steve Blake finally hit his first shot this series on a 16-footer early in the second quarter. He missed his first seven attempts.
Grizzlies: Memphis now has won Game 5 in its last five playoff series. … The Grizzlies improved to 3-2 when having a chance to close out a series on its home court. … Memphis went 1 of 14 beyond the arc for its worst shooting game from 3 in this series. … The Grizzlies outscored Portland 22-10 in the paint in the second half and 44-30 for the game.
Conley made an appearance on the video board in the arena with 3:26 left during a timeout, with fans giving him a standing ovation. He then moved to the team bench for the finish. He said on TV that he had two metal plates inserted to fix the broken bones in his face and that his eye has been swollen shut but is improving. He went to the morning shootaround earlier Wednesday to be around his teammates.
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Pelicans forward Quincy Pondexter had a front row seat opposite the Memphis bench watching both Blazers forward Robin Lopez and his former teammates. Pondexter was with Memphis until January when he was swapped to New Orleans as part of a three-team trade bringing Green to the Grizzlies.