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VOL. 132 | NO. 19 | Thursday, January 26, 2017

NBA Writer Sees Gasol, Conley as All-Stars

By Don Wade

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At espn.com, senior writer Zach Lowe has made his All-Star reserve picks and he has deemed both point guard Mike Conley and center Marc Gasol worthy of representing the Grizzlies on the Western Conference team.

Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley was having the best season of his career before he broke bones in his back and missed nine games.

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

But more interesting is Lowe’s assessment of the Grizzlies, who were 9-12 in their last 21 games heading into Wednesday night’s home game vs. the Toronto Raptors.

Here’s Lowe on why Conley and Gasol are so valuable: “Their backup point guard spot is a sinkhole, and the wing rotation is (an) unsettled mishmash of castoffs, fogies, one-dimensional players, and a giant, injury-related question mark. The Grizzlies more or less are Gasol and Conley.”

Lowe’s shots at the rest of the Grizzlies’ roster are anything but masked and feel a little harsh considering the Grizzlies are easily in the playoffs at the current time. Then again, he’s not really wrong, is he?

Lowe says Conley is playing the best basketball of his life and that was certainly true before a back injury sidelined him for nine straight games. He notes that evolution of his offense while saying his defense has remained at a high level. The willingness to be more aggressive on offense is accurate, but Conley has not been a great on-ball defender.

Grizzlies center Marc Gasol an All-Star? The big man has shown this season that he’s got a formidable three-point shot.       

(AP Foto/Brandon Dill)

But there is also no disputing that, ultimately, the Grizzlies go as Gasol and Conley go. And it would be cool to see Conley in the All-Star Game. It would bring a dash of class to the West’s backcourt, too.

Memphis Open Players Down Under

Players slated to play February’s Memphis Open at The Racquet Club claimed a total of 17 victories in their matches at the Australian Open.

Five players made it to the second round, four played into the third round, and Daniel Evans made his first appearance in the round of 16 in a Grand Slam tournament. Evans will also break into the Top 50 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time next week.

Big-serving Ivo Karlovic fired an Australian Open record 75 aces and rallied from a two-set deficit to beat Horacio Zeballos 22-20 in the fifth set (longest fifth set in tournament history and 2nd-longest fifth set in Open Era) during his opening match. He won’t be the only big server in Memphis with Americans John Isner and Sam Querrey also in the field.

Teenagers and Memphis Open wild cards Frances Tiafoe and Reilly Opelka, who both qualified into the main draw in Australia, played well in their openers with Tiafoe, who turned 19 last week, winning his first career Grand Slam match. Opelka lost in his Grand Slam main draw debut in a five setter to No. 11 David Goffin.

The two former Memphis Open winners, Querrey (2012) and Steve Darcis (2008), each made it to the third round before falling in tough matches.

The Memphis Open runs from Feb. 11-19. For more information, go to www.memphisopen.com

Quote, Unquote

“Tennessee was better. They deserved to win. It would have been a shame” if Kentucky had won. – Wildcats coach John Calipari after the Vols upset UK 82-80 on Tuesday, Jan. 24.

“We need a (expletive) playmaker. I’m not saying you can just go find one, like you can go outside and see trees. I didn’t say that.” – LeBron James on the lack of a reliable backup point guard in Cleveland.

“We just need to cool it in our public conversations about what we’re going to be doing or not doing.” – Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on the subject of quarterback Tony Romo’s future.

“We were looking to provide our student-athletes with a great educational, cultural and international football experience.” – Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh on why the Wolverines will hold three of their allotted 15 spring practices in Rome, Italy.

“Be very strong. We are to support you … After God is family. We are extremely sorry for the loss of our brother. Only God knows why these things happen.” – Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez to the mother of Yordano Ventura, the 25-year-old Royals pitcher who died last weekend in a car accident in the Dominican Republic.

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