MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Once the Memphis Grizzlies were back in the game, Marc Gasol thought he would be, too.
Yet, there was Gasol, still in his warmups, standing outside the huddle of players who coach David Fizdale would send back out for the closing minutes. The Grizzlies’ leader in scoring, rebounds and assists never returned to the floor Sunday, and the Brooklyn Nets held on for a 98-88 victory that dealt Memphis an eighth straight loss.
“You take it personally,” Gasol said, adding that he felt it was his duty to stay positive and support those on the floor.
But that didn’t make it easier to take.
“Obviously, you get frustrated, and I did, and mad and start wondering,” said Gasol, who even while sitting out the fourth quarter tied Tyreke Evans for the team lead with 18 points.
Memphis is in disarray. Besides the losing streak, the Grizzlies are playing without point guard Mike Conley, who is nursing a sore left Achilles tendon. Memphis is 0-7 without Conley in the lineup.
Meanwhile, forward Chandler Parsons left the game after feeling tightness in his right knee during the first half and didn’t return.
And now Gasol is unhappy.
The injuries and the losses have led to frustration. Gasol has been outspoken recently about playing as a team and trusting each other on defense. He has talked about the culture established during the Grizzlies’ recent success and trying to maintain that atmosphere with a lot of new pieces this season.
Fizdale, in his postgame , downplayed keeping Gasol on the bench in the fourth, saying the reserves had cut into Brooklyn lead. He decided to see “if that group could keep the momentum going, but it didn’t work.”
He said if there was a problem from Gasol sitting in the fourth, they would address it, adding that it was “nothing against him.”
“Sometimes when you take a risk, you may (upset) a player or two,” Fizdale said. “That’s part of this position. I can own the decision and I have my reasons why. Winning is my only priority.”
Gasol spent a long time in front of his locker answering questions regarding the situation.
“I do not know the why,” Gasol said of not playing down the stretch, later adding: “It’s a first for me, trust me, and I don’t like it one bit. I’m more (ticked) than I can show and frustrated.”
He said being in competitive situations, such as the fourth quarter, is what fuels him. Not being there is part of the frustration.
“If I’m not on the floor, then I’m not valued,” Gasol said. “I’m sure (the coaching staff) knew that would hurt me the most.” (The Associated Press)
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