Gasol avoids brotherly bragging

Grizzlies center Marc Gasol talks and texts nearly every day with older brother Pau, the four-time All-Star center for the Lakers.

But he knew better than to dial big brother’s cell phone on Sunday night, no matter how much he wanted to share the joy of his role in helping the Grizzlies get the first playoff victory in franchise history.

“I knew he did not have a good game, and I knew they lost,” Gasol said, “so I knew he wouldn’t be talking a lot.”

Marc Gasol made 9 of 10 shots and scored 24 points Sunday in the No. 8-seed Grizzlies’ 101-98 victory over the top-seeded Spurs in Game 1 of their first-round series that will resume Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Pau Gasol missed 7 of 9 shots and scored only eight points in a 109-100 loss to the No. 7-seed New Orleans Hornets in Los Angeles.

For one night, brotherly love won out over sibling rivalry. But Marc Gasol can take personal pride in knowing he accomplished something with the Grizzlies that Pau Gasol could not in six-plus seasons as Memphis’ starting center — a playoff victory.

The younger Gasol was a pudgy, 23-year-old 7-footer when he arrived in Memphis in 2008, part of the trade that sent his brother to the Lakers.

He has become one of the better centers in the NBA after dropping more than 20 pounds last summer and gaining confidence that he could play in the post. He averaged 11.7 points and 8.0 rebounds in 81 games this season, teaming with Zach Randolph to give the Grizzlies a beefy, 1-2 punch in the middle.

His progress and potential have been so impressive that Randolph made certain the Grizzlies intended to keep Gasol around before he agreed to sign a $71 million contract extension that will keep him in Memphis for an additional four years.

Randolph agreed to the new deal during the weekend.

“Marc is great, man,” Randolph said. “He has such a high IQ for the game. That’s what I love about him. He’s been playing so long and playing against older guys, because he was playing overseas. He’s a great player. I love playing with him. He plays the right way.”

The Spurs have a healthy respect for Gasol’s skills, though Spurs captain Tim Duncan admitted he occasionally wandered a bit from his defensive assignment on Gasol to keep an eye on Randolph, Memphis’ top scorer against the Spurs in four regular-season games.

“I gave him a bit of an easy time in there trying to have half an eye on Zach, instead of just focusing on Marc,” Duncan said, promising to have “a little better focus in that respect” in Game 2.

Spurs guard Tony Parker didn’t fault Duncan. Gasol, he said, simply had one of those “can’t miss” games.

“He got a lot of points,” Parker said. “He’s not going to play like that the whole series.”

Gasol understands his 90 percent shooting isn’t apt to continue through the series.

“That won’t happen,” he said. “I guarantee that.”

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