Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/6/12
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - It took some time for the Memphis Grizzlies to awaken from offseason hibernation. But once Marc Gasol and Quincy Pondexter got the Griz roaring, they couldn't be stopped. Gasol had his third straight 20-point performance of the young season with 22 points, and Pondexter came off the bench to add 14 in a 103-94 victory over the Utah Jazz at FedExForum on Monday in the Grizzlies' home opener. With NBA commissioner David Stern and new Grizzlies majority owner Robert Pera in the house, Memphis (2-1) overcame chilly early shooting and a lethargic effort by the Griz starters to win just their second home opener since the team moved to Memphis in 2001-02. "We just kept moving the ball and were able to start running," Gasol said. "We settled early for too many quick shots." Gordon Hayward led Utah with 19 points, and Al Jefferson had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Pondexter, who kept the Grizzlies from completely disappearing in the first half after Memphis started the game 2-of-19 in the field, scored five straight points in a 47-second stretch at about the five-minute mark of the third quarter. That gave the Grizzlies the lead for good. Once the Griz got to the final six minutes of the fourth quarter, Memphis kicked it fully in gear. The catalyst was Gasol, who flirted with a triple-double, also adding eight rebounds and eight assists. His superb passing, especially between him and fellow post player Zach Randolph, was too much for the Jazz to handle down the stretch. Despite not shooting well early, Randolph finished with his third straight double-double in as many games with 16 points and 18 rebounds. As cold as the Grizzlies started in their home opener -- they trailed by 12 points after the first seven minutes -- they were fortunate to trail just 50-47 at the half. The Jazz scored early and often, with Hayward producing 11 of his 13 first-half points in the opening quarter against a Grizzlies starting unit that looked dead on arrival. Memphis' starting front line of Rudy Gay, Randolph and Gasol was a combined 1-of-12 from the field in the first quarter. Memphis was able to climb back in the game because of a bench that apparently was enthused about opening night. The Grizzlies got plenty of energy from reserves Pondexter and Marreese Speights, who combined for 11 points and four rebounds in their first rotation of the night. Just the sheer hustle of that duo, crashing boards and running lanes, set the stage for the final three minutes of the half, in which the Grizzlies took their first lead at 47-45 with 43.9 seconds left on Gay's 25-foot 3-pointer. NOTES: Stern was on hand for the Memphis home opener, basically because he wanted to introduce new Grizzlies majority owner Robert Pera, founder and CEO of Ubiquiti Networks, a global communications company based in California's Silicon Valley. He bought the team for $377 million from Chicago businessman Michael Heisley, who was also at Monday's opener. Stern thanked Heisley and then introduced the 34-year-old Pera, who earlier in the day shot baskets in Griz practice gear on the FedExForum floor after an introductory press conference. Pera, painfully shy, kept his opening night remarks to 21 words, leaving Stern to laugh and say, "That's it?" Pera has a local group of minority owners that includes Memphians from all walks of life such as singer Justin Timberlake, former NBA stars Penny Hardaway and Elliot Perry, former Congressman Harold Ford Jr., Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhart and Ashley Manning, wife of NFL quarterback Peyton Manning.
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