GA­SOL HAS EDGE IN CON­LEY RE­UNION

Rap­tors nabbed fran­chise-record lead in first half

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - RYAN WOL­STAT rwol­[email protected]­media.com twit­ter.com/wol­statsun

Marc Ga­sol and Mike Con­ley played 718 reg­u­lar season or play­off games to­gether as team­mates with the Mem­phis Grizzlies.

On Sun­day night, they were op­po­nents for the first time and it was a game nei­ther will likely ever for­get. Not just be­cause it still feels a bit odd for ei­ther of them to see each other in dif­fer­ent uni­forms, but also be­cause of how one-sided the con­test was.

Toronto rolled past the Utah Jazz 130-110, with Pas­cal Si­akam scor­ing 35 points, and Fred Vanvleet ad­ding 21 and 11 as­sists. Con­ley had 20 for the vis­i­tors while Ga­sol scored 11, all in the first part of the open­ing quar­ter.

The Rap­tors led by 40 — yes, 40 — points at the half, a fran­chise record and a fran­chise-worst for the vis­it­ing Jazz. Si­akam, com­ing off of his worst game of the season, had 19 in the first quar­ter alone, Ga­sol had 11. Toronto moved the ball beau­ti­fully and went on a 23-2 run early, while the Jazz had all kinds of trou­ble put­ting the ball in the bas­ket.

The Rap­tors started 10-for-16 from three. Utah opened 3-for-17. Utah had three as­sists through 14 min­utes, the Rap­tors had 19. It was that kind of dom­i­na­tion for a half, and with Ga­sol be­ing un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally as­sertive.

“I knew he was go­ing to do that some­how,” Con­ley said af­ter­ward.

The two teams ba­si­cally switched places, Freaky Fri­day style, in the third quar­ter. The Jazz put up a fran­chise-best 49 points in the frame, mak­ing 18 bas­kets af­ter sink­ing only 13 through two quar­ters, and shoot­ing a blis­ter­ing 72 per cent from the floor, in­clud­ing 8-for10 from be­hind the arc. Con­ley shot 5-for-5 in the third for 13 points and Dono­van Mitchell added 11.

The Jazz shaved 19 points off of the deficit all in all and con­tin­ued to claw away in the fourth, but Si­akam and Vanvleet were great again in the fourth and the Rap­tors held off the charge as Utah even­tu­ally waved a white flag with an­other game com­ing to end this road trip on Mon­day.

Some coaches would have harped on the let­down in the third, but the Rap­tors’ Nick Nurse de­clined to do that.

“I don’t know, I don’t want to re­ally talk about that third quar­ter if that’s all right? I’m happy that we get a 20-point win against a qual­ity team like that,” he said.

Toronto im­proved to 9-0 at home, tied for best in the NBA with Philadel­phia.

TEM­PO­RARY RAP­TORS FAN

Not sur­pris­ingly, Con­ley was cheer­ing for Ga­sol and the Rap­tors dur­ing the play­offs.

“Man, I watched ev­ery game and was root­ing and hop­ing and pray­ing, then they brought it home, so it was pretty cool,” Con­ley said when asked whether he be­came a Rap­tors fan for a bit.

Ga­sol Face­timed with Con­ley af­ter win­ning the ti­tle, lead­ing to some mixed emo­tions.

“First (re­ac­tion) was pure hap­pi­ness, and then I was think­ing in my head like, ‘Wow, he’s got cham­pagne all in his beard and I’m sit­ting at home,’ ” Con­ley re­called.

He also greatly en­joyed Ga­sol’s post-cham­pi­onship hi­jinks at the team’s vic­tory pa­rade. Ga­sol guz­zled an en­tire bot­tle of wine on a float.

“I haven’t seen that Marc in a long time. And that was fun to

see,” Con­ley said with a laugh.

TALK­ING THROUGH IT

As their time in Mem­phis wound down af­ter so many years of suc­cess, both Ga­sol and Con­ley weren’t sure they wanted to leave.

“It was kind of the same thing. I think we both wanted to stay there,” Ga­sol said. “At the end of the day, we’re both happy that we moved on and both got traded. It was the same sit­u­a­tion for both. I re­mem­ber, we had a meet­ing with man­age­ment there. And they pre­sented, not kind of that they wanted to trade us, but, ‘OK, what do you want to do?’ We were like, ‘We can fix it. Let’s go. We’re not there far. Blah, blah, blah, blah.’ They traded both of us,” Ga­sol said with a smile.

Ga­sol was moved to Toronto at the trade dead­line, but Con­ley didn’t head to Utah un­til the off-season.

JOHN E. SOKOLOWSKI-USA TODAY SPORTS

Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert (27) drives to the bas­ket against the Toronto Rap­tors’ Marc Ga­sol (33) at Sco­tia­bank Arena. Toronto de­feated Utah 130-110.

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