Memphis’ Marc and Mike show is sweeping the West.
Center Marc Gasol, who had 26 points and nine assists, and point guard Mike Conley, who finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds, led the Grizzlies to a 112-99 victory at Portland, snapping the Trail Blazers’ nine-game winning streak.
Conley fell one assist short of a triple double and the Grizzles remained unbeaten in 10 games against Western Conference foes. Memphis has lost only two of 16 games this season for the NBA’s best overall record.
“We really know each other,” Gasol said of his chemistry with Conley. “We’ve pretty much seen any kind of defense you can throw at us, so we pretty much have counters for everything. Once we make a couple of jumpers you have to totally change your scheme and play us a different way.”
Conley echoes the sentiment.
“Me and the big fella have known each other for a long time,” he said. “We know how each other love to play and he’s so unselfish, he’s fun to play with. I know where he wants the ball and he knows where I want the ball so we don’t even have to speak to each other.”
Wesley Matthews had 26 points for the Blazers, who lost just their second game at home. LaMarcus Aldridge added 19 points and 10 rebounds.
“It’s just one game. We can’t let this set us back like it’s the end of the world.” Matthews said. “The Beauty of the NBA? In 48 hours we’ve got another game.”
— Associated Press
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
Debate in the paint
Marreese Speights came off the bench to score 28 points, almost a career-high, as Golden State beat Oklahoma City, 91-86, last Sunday. Speights said Thunder center Kendrick Perkins inspired him: “It’s just Perkins always got something to say. He thinks he’s a tough guy but at the end of the day his game is terrible. Always getting me going, so shout-out to Perkins again.” Countered Perkins: “I just don’t understand some guys, especially like a guy his caliber — five- or six-year player in the league, you been on six different teams. You don’t really have no room to be talking about anyone.”
New York lost a close game at Houston when James Harden scored 12 points in the final quarter, six of them from the free-throw line. “It was like an angel came down and started calling calls for him. Down the stretch, I don’t see how he was getting those foul calls,” said Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire. “The rest of the guys we pretty much had under control.”
Several players, including Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade, have taken extra rest this season to try to heal from injuries before returning to play. Former Pistons star Grant Hill broke his ankle early in his career, missed most of the next season, and later needed another surgery and missed an entire year. “When I hurt myself, I was playing on something that was progressively getting worse,” Hill recalled. “The thing I learned through this whole process is just because somebody’s a doctor or an expert, it doesn’t mean they’re right. When they say they’re ‘practicing’ medicine, they’re really practicing medicine.”
— Barry Stavro
GAME OF THE WEEK
Memphis at Houston
Wednesday at 5 PST. TV: NBA.
In their first regular-season meeting in Memphis two weeks ago when both teams had lost just one game, the Grizzlies routed the Rockets by 26 points. The Rockets hope to have center Dwight Howard back in the lineup after he sat out several games because of a procedure on his strained right knee.
Even if Howard plays, the Rockets will have their hands full with Memphis’ imposing big-man duo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. The Rockets will need guard James Harden to be at his best in this game between the Southwest Division rivals.
— Broderick Turner