Ga­sol has edge in Con­ley re­union

National Post (Latest Edition) - - SPORTS - RYAN WOL­STAT in Toronto rwol­[email protected]­ twit­­statsun

Marc Ga­sol and Mi k e 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- for-10 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.


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.


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.


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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