for this game

Gasol steps up as Grizzlies crush Sonics

Jan 19, 2008 - 5:38 AM By Shawn Pachucki PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Playing without their leading scorer, the Memphis Grizzlies got big production from their big man and snapped a five-game skid with a 124-100 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics on Friday night.

Averaging 19.4 points this season, forward Rudy Gay missed his first game of the season with the flu after netting 30 points against Cleveland two nights ago.

But Pau Gasol, who has been red hot in his past three games, filled the stat sheet with 24 points on 11-of-19 shooting to go with 12 rebounds, five assists and four blocks. The 7-foot Spaniard has averaged better than 27.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.0 blocks since last Friday.

"It was good to see Pau assert himself," Grizzlies coach Marc Iavaroni said. "He stepped up, and it was the night to do it. We were down a significant player in Rudy."

Gasol and the Grizzlies turned up the defensive pressure from the start, which helped lead to more offensive opportunities. Gasol registered three of his team's seven blocks in the first half and helped his teammates hold Seattle to 38 percent shooting.

Conversely, Memphis tied a season high with 68 points during the first 24 minutes.

"It was good to come out and get a win. We needed it bad," Gasol said. "We were able to do a lot of good things on the defensive end and get into a good flow. I was able to get into a rhythm in the first half. I thought all of our guys played together well tonight."

Mike Miller poured in 25 points, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range, and guard Bobby Jones added 20 points and 13 rebounds in his first start for Memphis since being called up from the D-League on January 10.

"We executed, played a little defense and made some shots. That makes the game a lot easier," Miller said.

Despite 22 points on 8-of-18 shooting from rookie sensation Kevin Durant, the Sonics struggled on offense, hitting only 43 percent (43-of-99) of their shots and connecting on just 4-of-19 3-point attempts.

"Early in the game, we were bringing good energy, but we need that to continue throughout the game," Durant said. "They did a good job of contesting shots."

The Grizzlies scorched the nets at a 68 percent clip in the second quarter. Gasol's layup with 2:30 left before the half started a 13-2 quarter-ending run that gave Memphis a 68-47 lead at the break.

Coming out of the break, Miller hit two 3-pointers in the first five minutes before Gasol's 19-foot jumper pushed the Sonics' deficit to 32 points. The Sonics (9-30) never got closer than 23 points the rest of the way.

"We know we're capable of playing like this," Gasol said. "We know we can score points. We have to learn how to play defense as a team every night. This is a win we can build on."

Memphis finished the game 52-of-100 from the field (52 percent) and held a 53-47 edge on the glass over Seattle, the league's top rebounding team entering the game.

Wally Szczerbiak added 19 points for the Sonics, who now have lost nine straight games for the first time in more than 35 years.

"Tonight was just a lack of effort on the defensive end," Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "You can't be competitive in this league if you can't guard, and right now, we're not guarding."

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