Court Vision: Gasol keeps playing at MVP-level as Grizzlies blast Clippers
Going inside the Grizzlies' 107-91 win over the Clippers, which kept Memphis perfect at home this season.
These matchups have been defined by physical play, with Clippers beat writer Dan Woike tweeting before the game it's "the best game on the NFL schedule this week."
There was contact, most notably an inadvertent elbow that left Blake Griffin with a bloody nose. But more than anything, this game was defined by the scoring hot Marc Gasol.
He took a passed tipped by Hawes with his left hand, took two dribbles and skirted past J.J. Reddick, delivering a two-handed slam.
Gasol scored 30 points, which came on the heels of a 32-point performance against the Celtics on Friday (which tied a career high set on Oct. 29 vs. the Timberwolves).
Before this season, the Grizzlies big man had never scored 30 points in a game and now he's done it three times this season, including in consecutive games.
Sunday's mastery included a season-high 12 rebounds, giving him his first double-double among those 30-point outings -- and Gasol was at his most efficient. While he shot 70.5 percent vs. Boston and 59 against Minnesota, Gasol was at a blistering 72.2 clip (13 of 18) vs. the Clippers.
But he was focused on what he didn't do in making a mockery out of the latest installment of this rivalry.
"We should have moved the ball a little better," he said. "I thought we got a little static with the ball. ... It was a good team win and we continued the streak at home, which is good."
Gasol is now tied with five players for the most games of at least 30 points this season -- it's a group made up of the Kings' DeMarcus Cousins, Warriors' Stephen Curry, Pelicans' Anthony Davis, Jazz's Gordon Hayward and Timberwolves' Kevin martin -- but he's the one that's doing it for a squad boasting the NBA's best record.
It's excruciatingly early, but Gasol is looking every bit an MVP candidate in the season's first quarter.
The Clippers have been off their fast-break game in the season's early goings.
Second in the league in fast-break points per game in 2013-14 with 18.2, they are currently 20th (10.5) and had just 7.7 in their previous three games heading into Memphis.
Sunday amounted to breaking out of their shells, as Los Angeles had 13 -- but all that being said, what the Grizzlies defense did to Chris Paul and Co. early on helped lead the way to this rout.
Los Angeles had just three transition points in the first half, and when Spencer Hawes looked like he'd add two more, Courtney Lee stalked him down and knocked the ball out of bounds.
Regardless of their fast-break effectiveness, the Clippers want to run -- they are eighth in pace (94.3) -- and the Grizzlies want to slow things down. Memphis kept Los Angeles from getting into rhythm in building a 13-point halftime lead and leading by as many as 18.
The Grizzlies were at their most effective in shutting down Blake Griffin. He finished with 12 points, but was just 5 of 17 from the floor and hit just three shots from closer than 21 feet.
"We came out strong," Gasol said. "We come out real physical. Defensively, we were engaged and everybody was helping each other."
Tony Allen showed some flair with a behind-the-back ball-fake that got Glen Davis to bite, then followed with the easy lay-in. On the next possession, the Grizzlies shooting guard trailed Courtney Lee and followed a miss with a two-handed throwdown.
Added with a pair of field goals, Allen scored eight of his 12 points on a 12-7 Memphis run that gave them a 17-point lead late in the second quarter.
He's, of course, not known for his offense. Allen is a three-time All-Defensive Team member and his Twitter profile pic is his face on the iconic 'The Godfather' movie poster, with the movie title replaced with 'The Grindfather.'
At 32, Allen has learned to pick his spots. His points total tied his season-high and his best since scoring 13 on April 16. He hasn't averaged more than 9.0 points a game in four years -- and that's what makes that wrap-around score even more impressive, and maybe even more embarrassing for Davis for getting so faked out on it.
20 -- The Grizzlies and Clippers aren't that far apart in rebounds per game, with Memphis averaging 41.8 and L.A. at 37.4. But the Grizz completely dominated the boards, holding a 52-32 edge, with Zach Randolph following Gasol's 12 with eight boards.
20 -- Going along with that edge on the glass, Memphis also had some synergy down low, with a 52-32 edge in points in the paint.
"We can't be satisfied. You have to keep doing it, because that's the way basketball and life is. You have to worry about the next day." -- Marc Gasol on winning another game against the Western Conference's elite