Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/6/12
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Marc Gasol doesn't want to give the reasons why he's averaging 21 points and seven rebounds in the Memphis Grizzlies' first three games of the 2012-13 NBA season. That's because he doesn't care about that. "It doesn't matter who scores the points, who gets the rebounds, who gets the assists," said Gasol, who flirted with a triple-double with 22 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as the Grizzlies beat the Utah Jazz, 103-94, in the Griz's home opener Monday night. "All that matters is we're 2-1, and it should be 3-0." With NBA commissioner David Stern and new Grizzlies' majority owner Robert Pera among the FedExForum crowd of 17,401, Memphis overcame a frigid, 2-for-19 start from the field. Memphis finally grabbed the lead just past the midway point of third quarter, thanks to superb bench play from swingman Quincy Pondexter, and finished with a flourish for a franchise-record 12th consecutive regular-season home win dating back to last season. "We took too many jumpers early, but our bench came in and gave us more intensity," Griz coach Lionel Hollins said. "Then when our starters got back in, they played with more intensity. By the third quarter, everybody on our team kind of got into their game." That means Gasol consistently hit mid-range jumpers, and forward Zach Randolph dominated the offensive boards, finishing with 18 rebounds (nine offensively) and 16 points. It also means defensive stopper Tony Allen shut down the Jazz's Gordon Hayward, who scored 11 of his 19 points in the first quarter. Allen's defense seemed to jack up the rest of the Grizzlies, something that didn't go unnoticed by Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin. The Jazz (1-3) had averaged 31.3 points in the third quarter in their first three games, but the Griz outscored the Jazz 27-18 in the third period. "At the end of the second quarter and in the third quarter, they got aggressive and got their hands on us a little bit," Corbin said. "That took us out of our offense and they got a run. We did get off to the start we wanted, but we've got to be able to finish it off." The Jazz weren't smoking early, shooting 45.8 percent from the floor in the first quarter (11-of-24). But the Grizzlies, with their front line of Gasol, Randolph and Rudy Gay combining to make just 1-for-12 field goals, shot 24 percent (6-for-25). Memphis was fortunate it didn't trail by more than 25-18 at the end of the first quarter and by 50-47. It even took the lead in the final minute of second quarter. Pondexter, a third-year pro who came to the Grizzlies last season in a trade with the New Orleans Hornets, kept the Griz in the game in the first half against the Jazz. In the third quarter, he scored five straight points in a 47-second stretch to give the Grizzlies the lead for good. "Being in this system for a while, I'm a lot more comfortable with the guys," said Pondexter, who finished with 14 points on 5-of-8 field goal shooting, including 2-of-2 on three-pointers. "I get to know the guys and know this league. I'm finding my niche." Monday's game got a bit chippy in the final seconds when Gasol horse collared Jazz guard Randy Foye after Foye made a steal and drove to the basket. Gasol tried to grab Foye as he blew past him and deposit him gently on the floor. Gasol, palms stretched outward to show he meant no harm, tried to help Foye to his feet. But Jazz guard Mo Williams rushed in and shoved Gasol away. A puzzled Gasol got a flagrant foul one and Williams a technical foul with 3.4 seconds left. "All my teammates know that (protecting a teammate) is my instinct," Williams said. "I ride with whoever has their jersey that says `Jazz.' That's it. Nothing else matters. I felt like I should be the one to help him (Foye) up." Notes: Stern was on hand for the Griz's home opener, basically because he wanted to introduce new Griz majority owner Pera, founder and CEO of Ubiquiti Networks, a global communications company based in Califonia'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 after an introductory press conference, was shooting baskets in Griz practice gear on the FedExForum floor. 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 people from all walks of life, such as singer Justin Timberlake, former NBA stars Penny Hardaway and Elliott 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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