By Ron Wynn
The Memphis Grizzlies found the going a bit easier Friday night at home against the Brooklyn Nets, posting a decisive 101-77 win.
Despite the Nets coming in among the Eastern Conference’s best teams at 26-17, they had no defensive answers for the Grizzlies, who scored 67 points in the first half, and had a 23-point halftime lead (67-44).
It was also the second consecutive 100-point game for Memphis, and 13th straight they’ve won when hitting that figure. The win marked center Marc Gasol’s best game of the New Year. He had been in single digits almost every game recently, and gotten fewer shots as teams were constantly double-teaming the low post to reduce both his and Zach Randolph’s effectiveness.
But the Nets decided to play Gasol straight up with their own seven-foot center Brook Lopez. As a result, for a change the lane wasn’t congested, and Gasol was able to operate freely. He sometimes spun away for fallaway jumpers. Other times, he would swing into the middle for a hook or short shot. Gasol took 15 shots and made 10 of them, scoring 20 points to lead seven Grizzlies in double figures.
Equally effective was point guard Mike Conley, who outplayed Brooklyn’s Deron Williams. Conley hit two of three from three-point territory and was six of seven overall, scoring 14 points. Zach Randolph had 12 points (six of 13), celebrating being named this week to the Western Confeence All-Star team. Randolph narrowly missed another double-double as both he and Gasol had nine rebounds, helping the Grizzlies out-rebound the Nets 55-44. The third member of the Memphis frontline Rudy Gay had 11 points.
The Grizzlies’ bench also played a key role, with guard Jerod Bayless chipping in with eight assists. The Grizzlies had 25 assists to 16 for the Nets. It was the Grizzlies fourth victory in the past five games and improved their record to 28-14. It also gave them another game lead over fifth-place Golden State, who were defeated at Chicago 103-87.
The Grizzlies end their homestand Sunday against the New Orleans Hornets, a team that’s reeling. The Hornets are last in the Western Conference’s Southwest Division at 14-29. Memphis then hits the road for games against Philadelphia Monday and Oklahoma City Thursday.
Photo By: Associated Press