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Gasol leads Grizzlies to rare win

Mar 11, 2007 - 5:54 AM CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Pau Gasol exploited the middle to hand the Charlotte Bobcats their eighth straight loss.

Gasol scored 31 points and grabbed 15 rebounds as the Memphis Grizzlies won just their fifth road game of the season with a 115-107 victory over Charlotte.

Bobcats forward Emeka Okafor missed his seventh straight game with a calf injury. Without Okafor's presence on the defensive glass, Memphis outrebounded Charlotte, 44-35.

"Guys are able to drive to the basket on us now," Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace said, "and losing Emeka is a huge blow."

Charlotte held a 57-56 advantage at the half, but was limited to just 16 points in the third quarter as the Grizzlies pulled away. Memphis opened its biggest lead when Gasol's jumper made it 93-81 with 7:45 remaining in the game.

"In the second half, we were able to play through Pau. ... He became the focal point," Memphis coach Tony Barone said. "But the movement for the rest of the players was the key. Pau's an excellent passer, if you get him the ball and give him some passing lanes he becomes a factor and we haven't been doing that well. We got a couple of easy baskets because of what he did."

Rookie Rudy Gay scored 16 points and added 10 rebounds for his third career double-double and second in the last three games. Hakim Warrick added 18 and Mike Miller poured in 17 points for Memphis.

"In certain situations, you have to play almost perfect," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "There were some stretches where we turned the ball over while holding the lead. I thought Gasol was a handful down the stretch, along with Miller. They were a nice one-two punch."

Memphis shot 56 percent (40-of-72) from the floor, including 11-of-19 in the fourth quarter.

"I was trying to bounce back and make a big impact tonight like I'm supposed to do for this team," Gasol said. "Things went well tonight. I played hard and stayed aggressive all game. I did a good job.

"We played together and executed pretty well. We played smart and kept finding the open guy. They gave me the ball in good positions and I was able to make good decisions with both passing and scoring."

Wallace had 24 points and a season-high 17 rebounds and Raymond Felton scored a season-high 24 for the Bobcats.

"I'm just trying to pick up rebounds and give us as many possessions as I can and help with our scoring," Wallace said, "but you can't replace an Emeka Okafor."

Sean May returned to action for the Bobcats after missing 20 games with knee soreness. He scored 13 points in 22 minutes.

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