SAN ANTONIO — Marc Gasol momentarily raised his right arm in an exasperated shrug after Memphis Grizzlies interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff called timeout early in the third quarter, befuddled by a defensive blunder that left San Antonio Spurs wing Kyle Anderson all alone in the corner.
It was a mistake Gasol attempted to cover for by desperately lunging toward Anderson, who pump-faked, took one dribble and knocked down an easy pull-up jumper.
Gasol, surely feeling the reeling Grizzlies’ slim hopes of a skid-ending road upset slipping away after the Spurs’ 8-2 run to start the second half stretched San Antonio’s lead to 15, briefly looked down at the hardwood and shouted in frustration. He quickly collected his composure, walked toward the bench and calmly communicated to his coaches and teammates in the huddle.
Gasol’s shoulders didn’t slump. That represents progress at this point, fulfilling a promise Gasol made to control his frequently counterproductive emotional displays in the wake of David Fizdale’s firing this week, a shocking move made in large part because of the distant and deteriorating relationship between the head coach and the franchise center.
“You control your mind a little bit more,” Gasol said after Wednesday morning’s shootaround before Memphis faced San Antonio. “See what happens, understand the solutions to it, communicating with your teammates better, think about the next play. It’s all about trying to control those things.
“Obviously, if not as many things go wrong or we can do more things that work, that’s easy, too. If things work out, it’s easier to be positive, but it’s mostly me. It’s mostly me being positive and doing the things that I’m supposed to do on the floor to give confidence to my guys.”