The David Fizdale era as Memphis coach didn’t get off to a glowing start.
The end of his opening night was much more enjoyable.
The Grizzlies climbed out of a 16-1 hole, put together 16 straight points early in the second half and beat Minnesota 102-98 on Wednesday night, spoiling Tom Thibodeau’s debut as Timberwolves coach.
Memphis, which still trailed with 1:45 remaining, closed the game on an 11-5 run to seal the win for Fizdale, the former Miami Heat assistant who was hired to replace Dave Joerger in the offseason.
“You noticed I kept my poise,” Fizdale said of the anemic start that caused him to call a pair of early timeouts. “I was squirming on the inside, but I just knew our team just had some big-time jitters.”
Mike Conley scored 24 points and Marc Gasol added 18 to lead the Grizzlies in the season opener for both teams. Zach Randolph, in his new role as a reserve, had 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Andrew Wiggins led the Timberwolves with 25 points, while Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 21. Zach LaVine added 19 points.
Thibodeau found some good things for his team, particularly the fast start, but noted his young players need to finish.
“When we go back and we look into it, we’re going to see that the defense wasn’t good enough,” Thibodeau said. “The rebounding wasn’t good enough. The turnovers weren’t bad, but, you know, some of the mental mistakes got us down the stretch.”