Another Gasol Injury?
The Grizzlies were taking care of business and hanging on to a slim lead over the Magic last night when, some time in the middle of the third quarter, Jameer Nelson ran into Marc Gasol's left knee while trying to fight around a screen. Gasol immediately doubled over and waved for the bench, motioning for Dave Joerger to call a timeout.
Grizzlies fans the world over watched as he hobbled off into the locker room, trying not to panic. The rest of the game seemed both less important and more important, and the snakebit season of injuries looked for a minute like it was all going back down the drain.
Gasol came back out after long and sat on the bench. According to reports, he wanted to get back in the game, but every coach and player told him no (which is fortunate). Normally I'd say that's encouraging, but who knows. The official word is that he "re-aggravated" his knee injury and he'll have an MRI at some point over the All Star break. Gasol's a tough guy; tough enough that his wanting to re-enter the game has almost nothing to do with whether or not he made his knee injury worse.
Things were already looking rough in Gasol-ville. His lackluster play over the last two or three games can easily be attributed to the fact that he's simply not healthy. It's possible that he rushed back from the injury too soon in the first place. According to the Commercial Appeal's Ron Tillery, Joerger admitted that it'll probably be next season before Gasol is back to 100%. For him to have a setback on the path to healing—even a small one—means the Grizzlies' already tenuous playoff hopes are in that much more jeopardy.
With any luck, Gasol just tweaked the knee and freaked out, and he's fine. But this hasn't been a season of luck, now, has it?
Grizzlies 86, Magic 81
In light of the Gasol situation, the outcome of last night's game seemed unimportant, but it wasn't. Dallas beat Indiana last night, so a Grizzlies loss would have lost valuable ground in the race for the 8th spot. I've been saying all along that I didn't think Dallas was going to be able to hang on to the last seed, but it's starting to look like a possibility. We'll see how things go after the break—whether the Grizzlies can get a run together and/or whether the Mavericks will start to fade—but as of right now, the impetus is on the Grizzlies to win every single game and not for a second assume any team above them in the standings is going to drop.
Orlando has been playing well as of late—coming off wins over the Thunder and the Pacers—and they gave the Grizzlies all they could handle last night. Zach Randolph continued his recent run of struggles (especially against the length of Orlando's frontcourt) but managed to fight through it to the tune of 20 points. Nick Calathes, playing in front of a hometown crowd, put up 18 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds. Kosta Koufos played more minutes than average once Gasol went down, and did well.
It was a good win, and it took a lot of effort to make it happen, even as the team was pretty clearly distracted by seeing Gasol leave the game again. Now the Grizzlies will have a long time to rest up for the stretch run.
The Grizzlies at the Break
Time for a plug: this week's print Flyer features a piece by yours truly dealing with what to expect over the last 30 games, what the season has been so far, and a little bit of an examination of the "narrative" (a term I generally dislike) surrounding the team. So you should check that out—it's not like it'll cost you anything. (Update: the piece is online here.)