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Gasol's adds five blocks to Memphis' winning cause

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Pau Gasol's renewed confidence is starting
to re-energize the Memphis Grizzlies.

For the second straight game, the Grizzlies' leading scorer
pounded the ball inside, scoring 26 points and grabbing 12 rebounds
Wednesday night to lead Memphis to a 89-79 victory over the
Portland Trail Blazers.

Gasol shot 11-of-17 from the field and led a 50-34 Memphis
advantage in the paint. Gasol also had five blocks. In a Monday
night double-overtime loss to Detroit, Gasol had 32 points and 13
rebounds.

"I know that if I perform at a really high level, we're going
to have a better chance to win," Gasol said. "If I score 10, 15
points and have five or seven rebounds in a game, we probably are
not going to win. I just need to get more aggressive and let my
teammates feel all that energy and all that emotion."

Memphis built the lead to its biggest of the game at 72-62 when
Mike Miller scored on a fast break drive with 7:34 left.

Portland answered by getting the ball inside to Zach Randolph,
who scored twice as part of a 6-0 mini-run. Eventually, with
Randolph and Ruben Patterson scoring inside, Portland cut into the
lead, trailing by 3 on three occasions, the last coming with just
under three minutes left at 80-77.

But a 3-pointer from Damon Stoudamire and four final points from
Gasol rebuilt the lead to 89-79, sending the Trail Blazers to their
fifth loss in six games.

"We lost our heads a little bit late in the ballgame,"
Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "We're right there with two
minute to go, then they knock down a three, and I think that really
took the air out of us."

In addition to the advantage in the paint, Memphis forced 17
turnovers leading to 24 points.

Shane Battier added 15 points for Memphis, while Miller scored
13 and Dahntay Jones had 10 points off the bench.

Battier acknowledged that the Grizzlies are a different team
when Gasol pushes the ball to the basket rather than settling for
outside shots and not trying to get to the rim.

"It's huge because it opens up the 3-ball for us," Battier
said. "We're not a power team. We can't just overpower teams on a
nightly basis. So, when we are getting points like that in the
paint, it's a huge bonus for our offense."

Juan Dixon led Portland with 17 points and seven assists, while
Randolph and Patterson added 15 points each. Joel Przybilla scored
10 points and had nine rebounds and six blocks.

The Trail Blazers missed seven of their first nine shots, but
hung around and held a six-point lead after the first quarter.

Memphis continually worked inside, primarily with Gasol, who had
12 in the half. Of the Grizzlies first 11 baskets, 10 were in the
paint. At one point, Memphis led by 9, but Portland scored seven
unanswered points late in the half, and the Grizzlies took a 43-39
lead into the break.

Dixon had 10 for Portland.

"I thought we looked a little fatigued early in the first
half," said McMillan, whose team lost Tuesday night at Detroit.
"I thought we scrapped and fought to keep ourselves in the game,
but early, they were just quicker to the ball."

Memphis maintained the lead through the third period, but could
never break away from Portland, carrying a 66-60 lead into the
final quarter.

Gasol had eight points in the fourth, including hitting all
three of his field goal attempts. He said eliminating his passive
play that contributed to a recent three-game losing streak is part
of the key.

"We have this five game (home) stretch here, and we've already
lost two, and we just cannot afford to lose anymore," Gasol said.
"I will do whatever it takes and trying to play with a little more
confidence than I did before these two games and be more
aggressive."

Game notes
Only two Portland players -- Randolph and Przybilla --
started both Wednesday's game and the Trail Blazers' Nov. 22 win at
Memphis. ... Entering the game, Portland had won only two road
games, one of them in Memphis. ... Portland G Sebastian Telfair
missed his third game with a right thumb sprain. ... Memphis G
Eddie Jones missed his first game of the season with a right ankle
injury. Miller started in his place. ... Randolph got a technical
for arguing a call with 3:17 left in the third period. ... Memphis
assistant coach Lionel Hollins also received a technical in the
third period. ...Przybilla's six blocks matched his season high.
...The 38 Memphis rebounds included 19 offensive boards, matching a
season high in that category.