Marc Gasol carries Grizzlies past Sixers
The beauty of Marc Gasol is that when the 7-foot-1, 265-pound center for the Memphis Grizzlies has it going the way he did Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center, almost every asset of his multifaceted game stands out.
He is hitting three-pointers that no one expects him to make. He is recording seven assists, pounding the boards and muscling in shots around the basket.
Gasol scored 27 points and had seven rebounds as the Grizzlies beat the Sixers, 103-100. He also made the defensive play of the night.
Nick Young of the Sixers pulled up for what would have been a game-tying three-pointer before the buzzer, but Gasol swatted it away.
"I didn't think he was going to get there, and I didn't think he was going to be out there," Young said of the final shot, from deep in the corner. "I wish I could get that one back, because I would have turned the other way."
Evan Turner scored 27 points for the Sixers (18-26), who had plenty of opportunities to win the game late. However, after taking a 100-97 lead on Jrue Holiday's 17-footer with 3 minutes, 5 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Sixers missed all five of their field-goal attempts the rest of the way.
"I think we had great looks down the stretch and we did a great job of finding people," said Turner, who made 12 of 18 shots from the floor. "The shots didn't fall. I think we are getting closer and closer to where we want to be as a team. Once we get over this hump, we'll be rolling. Hats off to the Grizzlies."
Thaddeus Young added 23 points for the Sixers.
In one of the more entertaining and well-played games of the season, the Sixers, still in search of back-to-back wins for the first time since Nov. 30, got off to a good start for the second game in a row. They scored a season-high 33 points in the first quarter, and they made 54.2 percent of their shots against a team that holds opponents to a league-low 89.2 points per game.
They even built a 17-point lead in the first quarter.
The Grizzlies played without injured point guard Mike Conley (sprained left ankle), but they fed off Gasol; Rudy Gay (26 points); and Conley's replacement, Jerryd Bayless (21). They made 57 percent of their field-goal attempts after the first quarter. And when they got into trouble early, they corrected that problem by making 14 of 18 shots in the second quarter, scoring 37 points in the period to lead by 57-54 at halftime.
Sixers coach Doug Collins thought that the Sixers let the Grizzlies back in the game with a "soft defensive second quarter." But he also recognized that Gasol's impact on the game was crucial in determining the outcome.
"Marc Gasol was tremendous," Collins said. "Hitting jump shots . . . he's a throwback player, to say the least. His skill level, his feel for the game, is incredible."
Contact John N. Mitchell at email@example.com. Follow @JmitchInquirer on Twitter.