Mem­phis has Marc of ex­cel­lence

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Mem­phis, Ten­nessee

The Mem­phis Griz­zlies were al­ready rolling on Thurs­day night when Ok­la­homa City Thun­der star Rus­sell West­brook took his leave — ejected af­ter a pair of tech­ni­cal fouls. Then Marc Ga­sol took over. The 7-foot-1 cen­ter had 25 points, eight re­bounds, five blocks and two as­sists to pace the Griz­zlies to a 114-80 romp over the Thun­der.

Zach Ran­dolph added 21 as Mem­phis padded its fourthquar­ter cush­ion to 37 points be­fore coasting to the fin­ish.

Troy Daniels helped the lead swell in the fourth, shoot­ing 6 of 8 from out­side the arc in the fi­nal pe­riod while scor­ing all 22 of his points.

“I just was happy with the ef­fort,” Mem­phis coach David Fiz­dale said. “That’s all I cared about — see­ing us play harder. Sprint­ing back on de­fense, div­ing on the floor for loose balls.”

Mem­phis weath­ered a bit of an early sec­ond-half rally and still led 61-45 when West­brook was whis­tled for two tech­ni­cals with 6:41 left in the third.

“Hon­estly, it’s crazy, man, es­pe­cially to be ejected when I didn’t do any­thing,” West­brook said. “It was just crazy, es­pe­cially for me be­cause I don’t feel I get the ben­e­fit of the doubt most of the time from the refs.”

West­brook, the NBA’s lead­ing scorer at 31.7 points per game, left with 21 points, five re­bounds and no as­sists. Enes Kan­ter scored 19 as Ok­la­homa City set a sea­son low for points.

“I thought (the Griz­zlies) did a ter­rific job de­fen­sively,” Thun­der coach Billy Dono­van said.

“They’ve been good de­fen­sively all year long. I think there are some things that we cer­tainly could have done a whole lot bet­ter.”

The loss snapped Ok­la­homa City’s four-game win­ning streak, while Mem­phis ended a two-game skid.

Big toe, no-go

Mem­phis point guard Mike Con­ley missed his sec­ond game with a bum left big toe. Fiz­dale said it was caused by “a bro­ken toenail type of thing,” adding: “When those 7-foot­ers step on your toes, it’s not pleas­ant.”

West­brook’s ejec­tion as­sured Mem­phis would main­tain its streak of not al­low­ing a triple-dou­ble in 176 games — the long­est cur­rent run in the league.

The Griz­zlies haven’t al­lowed a triple-dou­ble since Dec 13, 2014, when Michael Carter-Wil­liams was 16-11-11 for the Philadel­phia 76ers.

“I get so many techs just for talk­ing,” said West­brook.

“I can’t even say any­thing when I’m get­ting ham­mered every time I go to the damn bas­ket. Not tonight, but every night.

“I just don’t get reffed the same way as other peo­ple, and I don’t ap­pre­ci­ate it.”

Ja­son Phillips, the of­fi­ci­at­ing crew chief, speak­ing to a pool re­porter, said West­brook’s beef was sparked by a shot clock re­set.

Phillips used the term “adamant” sev­eral times in de­scrib­ing the Thun­der guard’s com­plaint.

Of­fi­cials ad­vised West­brook they heard his point and it was time to move on. But the player con­tin­ued to gripe, draw­ing the first tech­ni­cal.

The com­plaint con­tin­ued “and then the player even pro­ceeded to use some pro­fan­ity,” Phillips said, prompt­ing the ejec­tion.

BRAN­DON DILL / AP

Mem­phis Griz­zlies cen­ter Marc Ga­sol shoots over Ok­la­homa City Thun­der coun­ter­part Jof­frey Lau­vergne in the sec­ond half of Thurs­day’s NBA clash in Mem­phis, Ten­nessee.

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