Grizzlies 124, Kings 117
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—If Pau Gasol is to become the subject of potential deals before next month’s trade deadline, he sure is boosting his market value.
The Memphis Grizzlies’ All-Star forward scored a season-high 34 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked a franchise-record eight shots to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 124-117 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.
Gasol, the 7-foot Spainard, used his shot-blocking skills to help the Grizzlies overcome a 10-point deficit entering the fourth quarter. He had four blocks in the first 5:05 of the quarter and the strong defensive effort allowed the Grizzlies to win for only the third time in 10 games.
“You’re not going to block eight shots every night, no matter how good of a shot-blocker and leaper you are,” Gasol said. “I’m not the best leaper in this league. I just try to read the defense the best way I can.”
Not only did Gasol spark the defense, he scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, including a short hook shot under the basket to tie the game at 112 with 1:33 to play.
“I think Pau’s effort indicates his capabilities,” Grizzlies coach Tony Barone said. “He made tough shots and came back from a tough night at the free-throw line (2-for-5 vs. Portland Saturday). He had eight blocked shots. That’s a key for us obviously. If he can do that for us, it gives us a presence in the paint.”
Atkins also provided a presence, scoring 13 of his points in the fourth quarter and finishing with seven assists. Miller dropped in a key 3-pointer to give the Grizzlies a 119-115 lead with 24.3 seconds left and Atkins and Damon Stoudamire connected on 5-of-6 free throws to account for the rest of the Grizzlies points.
“I think the key to the game was making big shots,” Barone said. “Mike Miller hit a big shot. Chucky Atkins made a big shot. Damon made big free throws.”
The Grizzlies also outscored the Kings 41-24 in the fourth quarter.
“In the second half, we imitated a team that could guard somebody,” Barone said.
Behind Gasol, Miller and Atkins, the Grizzlies shot 58.6 percent and outrebounded the Kings, 47-25. Gasol was 14-of-17 from the field.
In his past five games, Gasol is averaging 25 points, 11.8 rebounds and has 20 blocks.
“They’re a much different ball club with Pau in the game,” Kings coach Eric Musselman said. “He was absolutely fabulous.”
The Grizzlies, who trailed by 11 at the half, couldn’t get closer than five points in the third quarter. But Memphis opened the fourth getting two strong defensive plays from Gasol and back-to-back baskets from Atkins to cut Sacramento’s lead to two. The second of Gasol’s two blocks led to a 3-pointer from Atkins to trim the Kings’ advantage to 93-91.
The Grizzlies eventually took a 114-112 lead with 1:14 to go on a driving layup, through heavy traffic, by Atkins. The Grizzlies never trailed again.
Both teams shot well in the opening quarter and game was tied at 34 entering the second.
Sacramento used a 15-3 run for a 46-37 lead early in the second quarter. Martin capped the streak by scoring eight straight points, including back-to-back 3-pointers.
Memphis aided the Kings by committing four turnovers on its first five possessions of the second quarter.
The Grizzlies trimmed the Kings’ lead to 57-52 late in the second quarter, before Martin ignited another flurry. He scored six points in the final three minutes and Sacramento led, 66-55 at the half.
Memphis shot a season-high 58.6 percent from the field, despite missing 13 of 21 3-point attempts… The Grizzlies allowed 100 points for a franchise-record 22nd straight game… . Miller, who entered the game having made 14-of-25 3-pointers in his previous three games, struggled. He was 4-of-12. … The Kings had 12 steals, becoming the third consecutive Grizzlies opponent to record double-figure thefts.