Gasol, Grizzlies Trip Trail Blazers
Memphis 89, Portland 79
MEMPHIS, Tenn., Dec. 21 (Ticker) -- Pau Gasol picked up the slack for the shorthanded Memphis Grizzlies.
Gasol scored 26 points and pulled down 12 rebounds as the Grizzlies posted a 89-79 triumph over the struggling Portland Trail Blazers.
A fourth-year forward on the verge of stardom, Gasol compensated for the absence of Eddie Jones, who was injured in Monday's double-overtime loss to Detroit.
The former Rookie of the Year made 11-of-17 shots as he helped Memphis win for just the second time in its last six games.
"I've got my confidence back, and I think my teammates really helped," Gasol said. "My teammates are supporting me a lot, telling me, 'If you're going to shoot 20 shots, shoot 30 shots. You're our guy. You're our man, and nobody's going to say anything to you. You're supposed to carry us.'"
Mike Miller's layup with 7:33 remaining gave the Grizzlies a 72-62 advantage before the Trail Blazers responded with a 6-0 run.
Steve Blake's 3-pointer from the top of the key cut the deficit to 76-73 with 4:14 left. Damon Stoudamire, who played seven-plus seasons in Portland, knocked down a 3-pointer that rebuilt the lead to 85-77 with two minutes remaining.
"They're a really long and athletic team," said Memphis forward Shane Battier, who scored 15 points. "We're not a power team that's able to go through teams. We're more of a finesse team, and teams that are very long and athletic give us some problems."
Ruben Patterson made a layup, but Gasol drilled a jumper at the 1:22 mark, then made 2-of-2 free throws to seal the victory.
"We'll take it," Battier said. "They're a scappy team. On paper, they're missing some guys, so I think most fans thought we could take care of this one easy. But there are no easy wins in this league. This was a nice way to respond after the Detroit game."
Miller scored 13 points and Dahntay Jones added 10 for the Grizzlies, who held a 50-34 advantage in points in the paint and tied a season high with 19 offensive rebounds. Lorenzen Wright had nine points and 11 boards.
"It was an important win for our team, which was obvious from our stretch recently," Grizzlies coach Mike Fratello said.
Juan Dixon scored 17 points and Patterson and Zach Randolph added 15 apiece for Portland, which shot a dismal 2-of-12 from 3-point range. The Blazers have lost two in a row, five of six and 11 of 13.
"We've got to do a better job all around," said Randolph, who made 7-of-17 shots. "Guys need to start doing what we practice. It makes things tough coming in every day when you're not winning like you feel you're supposed to."
"We've been in a lot of close games lately, but we haven't been able to win many of them," Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "We need to go back to work and try to find ways to win some of these games. In this league, it doesn't matter how many you lose by. Hopefully we can learn from our mistakes early in the season, and that will make us a much better team down the road."