MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies are adding a better scoring offense to complement one of the league’s best defenses.
Marc Gasol had 20 points and nine rebounds as the Grizzlies built a 30-point lead in the second half en route to a 101-77 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night.
Gasol was 10 of 15 from the field, all of his points coming in the first half, as Memphis, which had seven players in double figures, won for the fourth time in the past five games.
It also marked the second straight game Memphis has topped the century mark after reaching 100 only twice in the 24 games before Wednesday’s 106-93 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
“One thing that we have had all season is our defense,” said Rudy Gay, one of three Grizzlies who finished with 11 points.
“We’re defending teams and getting turnovers. That makes it easier for us to score on offense, but we’re not forced to score each time in the half court set because we get so many points off the fast break.”
Mike Conley made six of seven shots, including 2 of 3 outside the arc, for 14 points, while Zach Randolph had 12 points and matched Gasol’s nine rebounds.
Jerryd Bayless, Tony Wroten, like Gay, scored 11 apiece, while Chris Johnson, on a 10-day contract with Memphis, had 10 points.
Wroten, Bayless and Johnson’s contribution were part of the Memphis bench, a troublesome spot at times this season, outscoring the Nets reserves 38-24.
“The bench has been great,” said Randolph, the day after he was selected as a Western Conference reserve for the All-Star game. “For us to win, we need our bench. They understand that. The way they’ve been playing has been great. They’ve been stepping up.”
Brook Lopez led the Nets with 18 points, while Deron Williams scored 12, adding six assists before leaving late in the third quarter with a quad contusion.
Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said Williams could have returned, but there was no need because of the Memphis lead.
“It just seemed like more sense to let the (reserves) finish it out,” Carlesimo said.
Joe Johnson and Reggie Evans scored 11 points each, with Evans grabbing 10 rebounds.
Brooklyn’s starting backcourt of Williams and Johnson both were 4 of 10 from the field, part of the Nets shooting 41 percent.
“They just came out and played better than us,” Williams said. “They played tougher than us. They outrebounded us and out-toughed us. .This is a game where we didn’t come out and play the way we were supposed to play.”
Memphis’ dominance on the inside was set early and continued through the game. The Grizzlies held a 62-40 advantage in the paint and outrebounded Brooklyn 45-37. The 62 points in the paint were a season high for the Grizzlies.
Memphis had 15 offensive rebounds, leading to 27 second-chance points.
“We didn’t match (the Grizzlies) physicality or aggressiveness on defense, especially their aggressiveness on the boards in the first half,” Carlesimo said. “That was the game.”
Memphis, which is second in the league in allowing 89.5 points a game, played one of its best halves of the season in carrying a 67-44 lead into the break. Gasol had 20 points, while Randolph had scored 12 in the first two quarters.
The 67 points were the most scored by the Grizzlies in a half this season.
Memphis connected on 60 percent of its first-half shots as it worked the offense through Gasol early, and the Grizzlies center was 10 of 15 from the field in the first two quarters.
“Our game plan early was to get Marc being aggressive and getting him some scoring opportunities,” Conley said. “Marc did a great job of taking advantage of it.
“… We did as much as we could to help Marc both offensively and defensively, and I think as a team we all played off of each other well. We were able to take advantage of things that Marc was opening up for us because of his aggressiveness early.”
The lead got to as many as 25 points before intermission.
The Nets, who have had trouble handling the ball recently, committed only five turnovers in the first half, but shot 43 percent from the field, not near enough to keep pace with the Grizzlies.
“We think we’re a better team than we showed in the first half,” Carlesimo said. “Actually, I thought in the second half, we did a good job. We competed on the boards, and we defended really well, but we dug too big of a hole.”
He later added: “We got beat up is what we did. They just took it to us.”
Memphis extended the lead to 30 in the early stages of the second half, but the Nets had a 13-3 run to get their deficit to 79-59.
Memphis could not maintain its shooting touch from the first half, and turnovers were hurting as Memphis had four miscues in the period.
Memphis held an 85-67 lead after three quarters, despite being outscored 23-18 in the period.
The Nets actually could have cut into the lead at the start of the fourth as Memphis continued to commit turnovers, missed its first two shots and was scoreless through almost 3 minutes.
Problem was, Brooklyn also was scoreless during the span, missing its first six shots to start the fourth. In the end, Memphis outscored the Nets 16-10 in the fourth.
“They turned it off, and it really didn’t matter,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “We only scored 34 points in the second half, but the first half is where we won the game.”
NOTES: Grizzlies F Jon Leuer, obtained earlier in the week from Cleveland, dressed for his first game with Memphis and played 2 minutes without scoring. … The Grizzlies’ previous high for a half this season was 62 points in the second half at Sacramento on Jan. 7. … The Nets are 12-3 since P.J. Carlesimo became interim coach, all three losses coming on the road, each by double digits. … The Grizzlies are 13-0 when scoring 100 points, 5-1 when shooting 50 percent and 20-2 when outshooting their opponents. … The Nets’ four-game road trip ends Saturday night in Houston. … The Grizzlies made 47 field goals matching their season high in that category. … Evans with 11 points and 10 rebounds recorded his first double-double of the season.