Batum, Blazers snap out of funk

PORTLAND — Nicolas Batum had 24 points and the new-look Portland Trail Blazers held off the Memphis Grizzlies 97-93 on Thursday night.

Jamal Crawford had 17 points, including four clutch free throws in the final seconds for the Blazers, who snapped a two-game skid to even to 2-2 under interim head coach Kaleb Canales.

Marc Gasol's layup narrowed it to 91-88 with 2:15 to go. Neither side could get a shot to fall as time wound down, but Wesley Matthews made free throws for Portland before Mike Conley's 3-pointer kept the Grizzlies close at 93-91.

Crawford's two free throws with 13 seconds left gave Portland some cushion, and after O.J. Mayo made a layup for the Grizzlies, Crawford added two more for the final margin.

Rudy Gay missed a 3 at the buzzer for Memphis.

Gasol finished with 22 points and nine rebounds for the Grizzlies, who have lost four of their last five games.

Memphis saw the debut of Gilbert Arenas, who was signed Tuesday for the rest of the season. The 30-year-old guard has not played since finishing last season with the Orlando Magic.

Arenas has averaged 21.2 points and 5.4 assists per game in his nine-year career, but has been slowed considerably by knee injuries. The Magic acquired Arenas from Washington last season, but used the NBA's amnesty cause to waive him in December.

Arenas came in with 1:23 left in the first quarter. He finished with two points and two assists in 11 minutes.

J.J. Hickson was in uniform but did not play for the Blazers. The 6-foot-9 forward as waived by Sacramento on Tuesday and claimed by Portland on Wednesday.

It was the latest of a serious of moves by the Blazers. In addition to dismissing head coach Nate McMillan, Portland traded away starters Marcus Camby and Gerald Wallace at the deadline. Often-injured former No. 1 draft Greg Oden was also let go.

Hickson played 35 games for the Kings, averaging 4.7 points and 5.1 rebounds in 18.4 minutes, but he had been limited in the last 10 games because of back spasms. The Blazers activated him shortly before Wednesday night's game.

The Blazers led by seven points in the first quarter, but the Grizzlies closed in midway through the second and former Blazer Zach Randolph put Memphis in front 37-36 with 4:53 left in the half.

Batum answered with a 3 to put the Blazers back in front and Portland led 49-44 at the break.

Randolph, who played for the Blazers from 2001-07, appeared in his fourth game since missing 37 with a torn right MCL. He led the Grizzlies with 12 points at the break.

Gasol's dunk made it 57-all and he added a free throw to put Memphis in front before Conely made two straight jumpers to go up 62-57.

The Grizzlies led by seven points before Portland rallied to take a 73-71 lead on Crawford's turnaround jumper.

Portland stretched the advantage to 81-74 on LaMarcus Aldridge's tip-in before Memphis narrowed it on Tony Allen's tip and 3-pointer.

Allen's 3 pulled the Grizzlies to 83-82 with 4:39 left, but after Aldridge hit a pair of free throws, Matthews' 3 made it 88-82 for the Blazers.

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