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Gasol notches 24 points, 18 rebounds

3/13/2004

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- For the first time ever, the Grizzlies
will not finish the season with a losing record. They guaranteed it
Friday night.

Pau Gasol scored 24 points and grabbed a career-high 18
rebounds, and the Grizzlies guaranteed the first .500 season in
franchise history with a 98-89 victory over the Los Angeles
Clippers.

Memphis won its 41st game of the season as Gasol, playing in
honor of his countrymen killed and injured in Thursday's terrorist
bombings in Spain, took over in the fourth quarter when the
Clippers made a comeback. Bonzi Wells, who had 19 points, scored
nine straight Memphis points to finish things off.

"Yeah, 41, this was our first goal," Memphis coach Hubie Brown
said. "The first goal was to get to 41. ...We are so far away from
peaking. I'm being serious."

The victory, Memphis' seventh straight, moved the Grizzlies a
half-game ahead of the Dallas Mavericks for the Western
Conference's fifth playoff spot. The Grizzlies swept Los Angeles,
the first time they've swept a Western Conference foe in franchise
history.

The Clippers, who lost their third straight, haven't won on the
road against a Western Conference opponent since Dec. 20.

James Posey matched Wells' 19 points, while Jason Williams had
13 points and seven assists. Shane Battier added 11 points off the
bench.

Quentin Richardson led the Clippers with 25 points, including 15
in the final period to key the Los Angeles comeback. Richardson
also had a team-high 11 rebounds. Elton Brand finished with 15,
while Keyon Dooling and Chris Wilcox scored 12 each.

Los Angeles players pointed to the Grizzlies' defense and
Brown's 10-man rotation as the keys to the game. Memphis had 13
steals, five blocks and harassed the Clippers into 39.5 percent
shooting.

"All their deflections really hurt us," Brand said. "They had
a lot of strips, and they weren't fouls. They were clean. That's
how they win so many games, they play you tough on defense."

Memphis struggled to open the fourth, committing turnovers and
hitting only two of 12 shots. Los Angeles took advantage with a
13-2 run, the last two buckets by Richardson giving the Clippers a
78-77 lead.

But Gasol and Wells got untracked, and the Memphis fans were
able to enjoy the final minute of the win.

"We realized they were up one, and we had been ahead by 10 the
whole game," Gasol said. "We had to execute and get the ball
where it was supposed to be."

Memphis led 47-39 at the half behind Williams' 11 points.

The Grizzlies built the lead to 15 in the third period, until a
mini-run by the Clippers cut the advantage to seven on at least two
occasions. Memphis maintained a 72-63 after the third.

"I just think they are ahead of us," Clippers coach Mike
Dunleavy said. "They're 10 guys deep. They defend. They're more
experienced, and they've got a good thing going."

Game notes
Prior to the game, the Grizzlies held a moment of silence
for the victims of Thursday's terrorist attacks in Madrid. The
Memphis players also wore black armbands and headbands, and Gasol,
from Barcelona, had a black ribbon on the shoulder of his jersey.
...Gasol's rebound total included nine offensive boards, tying a
career high. ...The Clippers activated G Doug Overton and placed G
Marko Jaric on the injured list with a left foot injury.
...Maggette got a technical for slamming the ball after a non-call
in the second quarter. ...Less than two minutes later, Wells and
Bobby Simmons got double-techs for mouthing at each other leaving
the court at a timeout. ...Memphis is now 28-2 when leading
entering the fourth quarter, undefeated in March (6-0) and 26-7
since the first of the year.