Grizzlies look to halt skid as they host Knicks

With the Memphis Grizzlies all but locked into the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, coach David Fizdale has two things to balance: rest and rhythm.

Memphis' loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday means the Grizzlies do not have a shot at the No. 6 seed. They need one win in their three remaining games -- or a Portland loss -- to finish seventh in the conference.

"We still have to play basketball right now," Fizdale said of the Grizzlies (42-37), who have lost 11 of their past 17 games and host the Knicks on Friday. "We still need to build rhythm going into it. We will rest guys, but I'm not taking it for granted yet that we've got the seventh seed. I still want the highest seed we can get. I don't know how many minutes guys will play from here on out, but we will definitely continue to play our big guns while resting them periodically. We will alternate them and things like that."

The Grizzlies have lost three in a row and played without point guard Mike Conley on Wednesday. Conley, who suffered a lacerated and swollen right eye during Memphis' overtime loss to San Antonio, is questionable for Friday's game.

Fizdale said the team was waiting for the swelling to subside, but the point guard will see game action before the playoffs begin.

"He's got to play some," Fizdale said. "His rhythm is the key. He doesn't need to sit that much. I just want to make sure he's in rhythm going into (the playoffs). He's obviously been playing great for us since All-Star (Weekend). He's really hit another gear. I don't want him to lose that rhythm."

The Grizzlies' essential veterans -- Conley, forward Vince Carter, center Marc Gasol, guard Tony Allen and power forward Zach Randolph -- have played together in a game just once since March 18.

Gasol has been battling a foot injury -- he called it "weak but pain-free." Gasol, who missed five straight games before returning on Tuesday, said he hopes to build strength as the playoffs approach.

"Obviously, there are other things that need to improve," Gasol said. "But we feel confident because we've got to go into the playoffs with confidence and know what our strengths are -- and our weaknesses. I think we have to try to hide (those weaknesses) a little better."

The Knicks, who are 30-49 and out of playoff contention, are without point guard Derrick Rose. Rose underwent "uncomplicated surgery" for a torn meniscus in his left knee, according to the team.

Rose, who becomes a free agent in July, can return to basketball activities in 3-6 weeks, the Knicks said.

On Thursday, New York erased a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit but fell to Washington, 106-103.

Kristaps Porzingis, who had been expected to play, was a late scratch. He has missed two straight games with a sore back.

With Rose's status up in the air and leading scorer Carmelo Anthony the subject of trade rumors, the 7-foot-3 Porzingis could become the face of the franchise in the coming seasons.

"Can you say that's next year or the year after (that Porzingis is ready to be the go-to guy)? He's made great strides and he's heading that way," Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said.

"I think he's done a great job. He's learning different things. He's picking things up. He's only 21 years old. The game's going to slow down even more as his years go on. That's why everyone thinks he's going to be a great player."

The Knicks will return home for their final two games, Sunday against Toronto and Wednesday with the 76ers.

Memphis hosts Detroit on Sunday and Dallas on Wednesday.
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