Playing in his fifth game since missing nearly two months due to
a foot injury, Gasol scored 20 points and helped Memphis snap a
three-game losing streak with a 93-82 win over the Milwaukee Bucks
on Friday night.
With the victory, Memphis remained tied with Denver for seventh
place in the Western Conference, and moved three games in front of
ninth-place Minnesota. The top eight teams will advance to the
"It's hard, being out for so long and then come back, being in
this point of the season where we are playing for so much, with so
much on the line," said Gasol, who missed 23 games with plantar
fascitis. "But I want to be out there. I want to fight for wins; I
want to fight for my team. That's all that matters."
Memphis is trying to make the playoffs for the second
"It does wonders for our team's confidence," the Grizzlies'
Shane Battier said of the win. "We'll come to work tomorrow with a
bounce in our step."
Milwaukee has lost eight straight, including three straight at
"There's no doubt this is the worst stretch," Bucks coach
Terry Porter said. "Every game it's something different."
Battier added 18 points for Memphis, which outscored Milwaukee
17-6 to end the game. The Bucks were held to 32 points in the
second half, missing 25 of 33 shots after halftime.
"It got better in the second half," Memphis coach Mike
Fratello said of his team's defense. "Our defense in the first
half was not real good, but we got a little bit better."
"He's so good, he can single-handedly beat you," Battier said.
"Mike Miller and Bonzi (Wells) did a nice job of making him work
and not letting him score."
Mason hit a baseline jumper to put Milwaukee up 71-70 with 9:42
left, the Bucks' first lead since the first half. The teams then
traded baskets for more than 4 minutes, with two ties and seven
lead changes. Earl Watson then hit a jumper to give the Grizzlies a
78-76 lead with 5:05 to go.
The Grizzlies never trailed again, with Watson's basket starting
an 8-0 run that was capped by Gasol's layup that made it 84-76 with
3 minutes left.
The Bucks cut it to 87-82 on Joe Smith's free throw with 59
seconds left, but Gasol scored on a dunk and Battier made two free
throws to seal the victory.
In the third quarter, the Grizzlies shot 4-for-20 from the field
and the Bucks shot 3-for-21. In addition to shooting poorly,
Milwaukee converted 31 of 44 free throws in the game.
"We had a bad third quarter and when it was time to turn the
game around, we missed 13 free throws," Milwaukee's Toni Kukoc
said. "That cost us the game."
Memphis guard Jason Williams missed the game because of an
illness. ... Milwaukee guard Reece Gaines did not play because of
food poisoning. ... Milwaukee finished the season 6-24 against
Western Conference teams.