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.