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Game Notes: Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies' bench lift Memphis over Portland

The Memphis Grizzlies broke a five game losing streak Friday night with a 101-100 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. It still wasn't a flawless victory, but the Grizzlies are slowly starting to look like themselves again.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies broke a five game losing streak Friday night with a 101-100 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. It still wasn't a flawless victory, but the Grizzlies are finding the smallest possible ways to look like themselves again.


Marc Gasol looked like the Aggressive Gasol from early last season by shooting 18 times and getting to the foul line 8 times. The jumper was falling for Gasol, and once he got going nobody on the Blazers' front line could do anything to stop him. He even stepped out and nailed a three like he does it in game all the time. It was awesome. It looks like he's getting closer and closer to being 100 percent physically and mentally. We finally got to see him smile and slap his ass while playing, neither of which we've seen all season.

The Spaniard finished with a season high 31 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds for hands down his best offensive  performance of the season.

If Gasol keeps up this level of defensive play he'll be in the running for his second Defensive Player of the Year Award. Playing 40+ minutes a night due to a Brandan Wright knee injury means he's going to slow down eventually, but right now he's playing awesome on that end. He's covering so many areas where other guys are weak, while being above average at his own responsibilities.

Other than Gasol....

The starters were not good. Mike Conley, Courtney Lee, Zach Randolph, and Tony Allen continued their poor play in the win over Portland. Allen was the worst of the bunch, shooting 0-6 and making defensive miscue after miscue in the first half. At one point he missed three wide open layups in a row. Fortunately for the Grindfather he wasn't alone.

Randolph came through when it mattered the most with a ZBound with .6 seconds left on the clock to give the Grizzlies the lead, but otherwise he struggled. The Lumberjack formerly known as Chris Kaman was able to make him work for baskets, which is something that shouldn't be said about anyone in the league. The Blazers stretched the floor and made Randolph run around. That's not particularly his fault, he's just so bad at it that it sticks out. He finished with 6-16 shooting, and somehow grabbed 8 rebounds after not getting an offensive rebound until the third quarter.

Here's something to be happy about when talking about Courtney Lee:

He's not going to shoot 19 percent from three for the whole season. It's just not possible.

The Grizzlies' leader and most important player is Mike Conley. That is not even in question. They need him to be good and he isn't all the way there yet. His contract year is not going well at the moment. His icy cold shooting continued as he went 4-13, but he did have 9 assists and was part of Coach Joerger's defensive attack that took Damian Lillard out of the game.

The Bench

I wasn't expecting much from Mario Chalmers and I have come to not expect anything besides disappointment and confusion from anyone on the Grizzlies bench, but the bench won the Grizzlies the game Friday night. Chalmers made his debut playing on all cylinders, racking up 11 points, 4 steals, and 2 assists in 20 minutes of action. He did a little of everything in his debut and if he continues that going forward people will forgive and forget, if they haven't already.

Jeff Green played very well on offense in his 30 minutes of playing time. He attacked the basket and only forced the issue a few times, scoring 14 points and pulling down 5 boards. He even hit a clutch shot with under a minute to go! This is the rare game where the Grizzlies do things to get Green in position to succeed and good things happen. Take how good he was on offense and he was equally as bad on defense. It's like he's wandering around lost on the court when the Grizzlies get to that end. He falls into ball watching and forgetting what man defense is.

JaMychal Green and Matt Barnes rounded out a solid effort from the bench with a combined 12 points and 7 rebounds. Barnes hit two threes to help spread the floor, while Green hit "Darrell Arthur Memorial 17-footers" that made me go through some deja-vu.