Created on Saturday, 09 March 2013 Written by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies are doing just fine with their best player sidelined by an injury.
Friday night's 103-92 win over Cleveland was the Grizzlies' third straight victory without leading scorer Zach Randolph, who is out with a sprained left ankle.
Marc Gasol scored 22 points and the Grizzlies held off a late run to win for the 11th time in 12 games.
The past three games, which also include victories over Orlando and Portland, have been particularly impressive since Randolph, who averages 15.7 points and 11.6 rebounds, has been unavailable.
"We've got a lot of options, even without Zach," Gasol said. "Everyone is playing well."
Memphis strengthened its hold on the fourth spot in the Western Conference playoff race and is 12-4 since trading star forward Rudy Gay to Toronto on Jan. 30.
The Grizzlies' previous victory in Cleveland came on Nov. 29, 2003, LeBron James' rookie season with the Cavaliers. Mike Conley, who helped Ohio State reach the Final Four in 2007, added 17 points for the Grizzlies and was happy to get his first pro win in Ohio.
"It's very special to finally win here because it's always tough to play in this building," he said. "For us to win and me to play this well in front of so many fans who watched me play in college, it's really great."
Kyrie Irving, who missed Cleveland's morning shootaround with flu-like symptoms, scored a team-high 24 points, but the Cavaliers were outscored 32-18 in the third quarter after leading 51-48 at halftime.
"That third quarter just killed us," he said. "If we could avoid third quarter holes like that we could get a lot more wins."
Asked why the Cavaliers have struggled in the third quarter, coach Byron Scott said. "I have no idea, but we have to figure out a way to regain that focus when we come back out. For some reason we're somewhere else when we come out (after halftime)."
Jerryd Bayless scored 17 points and Grizzlies pulled away after the Cavaliers cut the lead to 88-84 with 5:21 to play. Conley also had 11 assists while Bayless scored 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Gasol and Ed Davis combined for 18 points in the third quarter to help the Grizzlies build a double-figure lead. Gasol scored 10 in the period while Davis, starting for Randolph, added eight. Memphis took a 72-61 lead with 4:22 remaining and still led 80-69 after three quarters.
"We started attacking the basket better," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "In the second half, we got inside and we got to the basket. It was pretty simple."
Irving re-entered the game with 6:31 remaining in the fourth quarter and scored a minute later on a left-handed drive to the basket, cutting the lead to 88-84. Bayless hit a 3-pointer while Conley scored on a drive and added a jumper to push the lead to 95-86.
Irving, the Cavaliers' All-Star point guard, was listed as doubtful Friday morning. He said he began filling ill Thursday night, but felt better after going to the doctor and resting most of Friday.
Irving arrived at the arena about 90 minutes before game time and said he was going to play. He was 11 of 21 from the field and had three assists in 36 minutes.
Irving was recently held out of three games to rest a hyperextended right knee. He said following Wednesday's win over Utah that the injury was still bothering him.
Scott said Thursday he would consider shutting down Irving again, rather than risk him making it worse. Irving said before Friday's game his knee was fine and he wasn't getting shut down.
Dion Waiters, who usually starts in the backcourt with Irving, returned after missing two games with the flu that has been affecting the Cavaliers' players and coaches. Waiters scored three points and missed all four shots in 21 minutes.
Cavaliers forward Alonzo Gee ended the first quarter by hitting a 65-foot shot at the buzzer. Gee scored 12 points while C.J. Miles had 13.
Cleveland's Marreese Speights sustained a laceration to his right elbow late in the game.
Notes: Former Portland C Greg Oden, who hasn't played in the NBA since 2009, attended the game. The Cavaliers are one of several teams exploring the possibility of signing the No. 1 overall pick in 2007 whose NBA career has been cut short by injuries. Oden has undergone three microfracture knee surgeries — two on his left knee. It appears unlikely he will sign with a team until the summer. Oden and Conley were teammates at Ohio State. ... Hollins said there's no timetable for the return of Randolph, the league's third-leading rebounder, averaging 11.6. Randolph hasn't played since March 3 against Orlando. ... F Darrell Arthur missed his second straight game with neck and back soreness. He isn't traveling with the team. ... Cavaliers G Daniel Gibson was available to play after missing Wednesday's game with flu, but saw no action.