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Memphis Grizzlies Overcome Slow Start, Defeat New Orleans Pelicans 113-104

That seemed like it wasn't going to go well there for a while. Then, Marc Gasol decided to play his best overall game of the season and his effort did not go to waste as the Grizzlies defeated the Pelicans.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Marc Gasol led all scorers with 38 points and the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 113-104. It looked as if the Grizzlies were going to have a tough night in NOLA, as the Pelicans outscored Memphis 38-27 in the first quarter while shooting 70% from the field. Then, a certain large Spaniard took over.

Three quick takeaways from tonight.

Marc Gasol is Happening

Yes, the guy who got paid this off-season looked the part of "Max Marc" on this night. It wasn't just the monster stat line (38 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists), it was his aggression on both ends of the court. It was his career high in free throw attempts (16, which he made all of) showing his ability to attack the rim. It was his rim protection and defensive presence (4 blocks) to make life difficult for the Pelicans offensively, especially after the rough first quarter. New Orleans scored 66 points the rest of the game and their shooting cooled considerably.

This was not an accident. Marc Gasol helped turn the tide.

Matt Barnes is Making a Case for More Consistent Minutes

Whether it be as a starter or sixth man type, Matt Barnes needs to see more time on the floor. As important as Gasol was on this night, you can argue that Barnes was the 2nd biggest part of this Grizzlies' win. When Tony Allen struggled defending Tyreke Evans early in the game (as he almost always does) it was Barnes who slowed down the explosive Evans, who made his return from injury tonight for New Orleans. When a transition opportunity presented itself, it was often Barnes who either created it or finished it. He attacked the offensive glass, he committed good fouls, he made winning plays time and again.

Matt is still not shooting the three like many Grizzlies fans would like him to. He is certainly showing the effort and energy that can be contagious for Memphis, however, as they try to run off some wins in December as their schedule lightens up some.

On This Night, the Bench Saved the Starters

Matt Barnes led the bench's cause, but Mario Chalmers and Courtney Lee should be commended for their efforts as well against New Orleans. Barnes and Lee were +15 on the night, while Chalmers was a whopping +22 in 24 minutes of play. It is a luxury that Memphis has not often had in the past to have...

  • A- Two bench wings in Barnes and Lee who can step up and pick up the slack when Tony Allen is struggling or Jeff Green is having...well...a bad Jeff Green game, and
  • B- A back-up Point Guard who can play so well (11 points on 4-4 shooting, 4 rebounds, 4 assists) that he can lead a comeback with Mike Conley on the bench. Mike Conley played 24 minutes against the Pelicans; that is huge moving forward as minutes mount through the grind of the season.
Barnes' ability to defend multiple position also opens up Memphis' offense in their small-ball look with Jeff or JaMychal Green at the 4 with Marc Gasol or Zach Randolph at the 5. This lineup is showing what the Grizzlies' future may look like down the road, and at the moment (at least offensively) that future is bright.

The Grizzlies are now 11-8, good for 4th in the crazy Western Conference to start the month of December. This was a good win for Memphis, who came in to the contest 7-17 in New Orleans historically. With the San Antonio Spurs visiting the FedExForum Thursday night for a national TV tilt, this victory will hopefully build confidence while also calling to attention the need to defend for a full 48 minutes. They must do just that if they hope to secure their best win of the season at home against the rival Spurs.