Gasol looks to continue his hot shooting and help the Grizzlies extend their season-best win streak to five games when they take on the Detroit Pistons.
Gasol, who leads the team with 19.4 points per game, is shooting nearly 65 percent from the field (33-for-51) during the win streak and has hit 30 of 37 free throw attempts for an average of 24 points per game.
His surge has helped the Grizzlies score 102.3 points over their last four, including a season-high 117 against Boston last Wednesday. The team averages 93.3 points on the season.
Just one of the four victories has come against a winning team—Minnesota— but a win over the Pistons will move Memphis to .500 for the first time this season. Entering the season, the Grizzlies were expected to start much stronger than 6-12 after going 50-32 last season to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
Gasol scored 25 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and keyed a third-quarter rally Monday night as Memphis beat Utah 92-82 to improve to 11-6 under Mike Fratello.
“We’re getting it,” said Shane Battier, who scored 18 points. “We feel better about ourselves, and we feel we have some go-to things, guys who we know can get a bucket or guys who are really stepping up now. I don’t know if we had that at the start of the year.”
Gasol hit all six of his shots from the field during the third-quarter rally after going 5-for-6 with three turnovers in the first half.
“I had a few turnovers in the first half,” Gasol said. “If my team gives me the ball to create something in the post, I’m supposed to score, get fouled or get an assist.
“I just went out a little more aggressive and ready to score.”
Memphis was sent into disarray when Hubie Brown retired in late November, but Fratello’s system is catching on and the team may be poised for a similar January run to that of last season—when they won 10 of their first 11 games in the month.
“We’re the same team. We’re the same guys we were then,” said Lorenzen Wright, who had a season-high 12 rebounds. “I don’t think anybody had a tougher schedule than we’ve had in November and December. We weathered that, and now, it’s our turn to play basketball.”
The Pistons, who look to avenge a 72-68 loss at Memphis on Dec. 11, have won five of their last six games after posting an 87-80 victory at Chicago on Monday.
“I think, as the game gets later, we get better. We really tighten up our defense. That’s what makes us a great team,” Hamilton said.