By Ben Golliver
The Grizzlies announced Saturday that center Marc Gasol is out indefinitely after "re-aggravating an abdominal tear" during a 90-83 loss to the Hornets in New Orleans on Friday night.
Memphis noted that Gasol first sustained the injury during a March 6 win over the Blazers in Memphis. That injury did not cause him to miss a game, as Gasol has started all 68 games for Memphis this season. The Spanish center played 38 minutes on Friday night, finishing with 16 points (on seven-for-13 shooting), six rebounds, four assists, four steals and one block.
Gasol, 28, is among the leading candidates for the Defensive Player of the Year award after earning his first All-Star selection in 2012. He's averaging 14.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.0 steals in 35.2 minutes per game this season and is a vital piece for the Grizzlies on both sides of the ball. Memphis' offense is four points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor compared to when he's on the bench; the team's defense, which ranks No. 2 in the league in efficiency, is 6.6 points better with him on the court compared to when he's on the bench.
The Grizzlies, currently the Western Conference's No. 5 seed with a record of 46-22, have 14 games remaining on their schedule and will host the Celtics on Saturday night. Memphis is a full eight games up on the Warriors, currently in the No. 6 seed, so there's no threat of slippage in the standings. However, the Grizzlies have been locked into a seeding race with the Nuggets, currently No. 3, and the Clippers, currently No. 4. The three teams were separated by just one game entering Saturday's action. Coach Lionel Hollins can turn to reserve big men Darrell Arthur and Ed Davis in Gasol's absence. It's unclear how long Gasol will be sidelined. For comparison's sake, Heat forward Chris Bosh missed three weeks during the 2012 playoffs with a lower abdominal strain.