The value of the NBA’s tall men once again was clearly demonstrated on the court with Spanish center Marc Gasol and Jamaican Roy Hibbert - playing for the Memphis Grizzlies and the Indiana Pacers, respectively - stepping up on the weekend to give their teams 2-1 advantages in the semifinals.
Once again, Gasol made a decisive contribution to put the Grizzlies up 87-81 over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the third game of the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals. He scored 20 points and headed a list of four players, including three starters, in double digits.
Sixteen of the big man’s points came in the second half, including two free throws he sank with just 1:03 remaining in regulation time to give his squad the definitive advantage. Overall, he played 37 minutes - hitting 6 of 14 shots from the field and 8 of 9 from the line - snagged 9 rebounds, contributed 4 assists and blocked 2 shots.
Along with Gasol, teammates Mike Conley and Tony Allen contributed 14 points each and Jerry Bayless threw in 11 more off the bench.
Meanwhile, Hibbert led the Pacers to their 82-71 win over the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Jamaican secured a double-double, scoring 24 - 9 of 18 from the field and 6 of 7 from the free throw line - and grabbing 12 rebounds.
Also for the Pacers, George Hill scored 17 points, Paul George tallied 14 and David West contributed 11.
Memphis will go up against the Thunder again on Monday in their same home-court venue - the FedExForum - and the Pacers and Knicks will face off once again on Tuesday in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.