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Sonics / NBA

Saturday, December 16, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM


NBA Notebook | Gasol rusty in first game back

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The long-awaited return of All-Star forward Pau Gasol did nothing to change the fortunes of the Memphis Grizzlies.

Zaza Pachulia scored 22 points, Speedy Claxton added 19 points and 11 assists, and the Atlanta Hawks ruined Gasol's season debut by beating the Grizzlies 97-88 on Friday night.

Josh Smith finished with 16 points, going 7 of 9 from the field, and grabbed 10 rebounds for Atlanta. Smith also tied his season high with five blocks.

The Hawks benefited from the Grizzlies' usual slow start to snap a four-game losing streak and win for the first time without leading scorer Joe Johnson, who is out with a right calf strain.

Memphis lost its fifth straight.

"We knew the crowd was going to be excited because it was Pau's first game back," Hawks guard Tyronn Lue said. "By jumping on them early, it took the wind out of the crowd, and we were able to maintain the lead."

Gasol missed the season's first 22 games with a broken left foot. He started and played 17 minutes, scoring four points and grabbing three rebounds. The 7-foot All-Star looked tentative in his first action, not crashing the boards and not taking a shot during his first two four-minute stints.

"He was definitely not himself," Pachulia said. "He hasn't played an NBA game in like nine months. I don't think he was 100 percent. That's what I felt on offense, on defense, both ends of the floor, and I just took advantage of it."

Gasol acknowledged he was rusty, and despite the rehab and conditioning, he has a ways to go to be game-ready.

"Well, it was hard. A little slower than usual, and your legs get real heavy out there," Gasol said. "I'm just happy I got through it. It's frustrating that I can't help my team anymore than I did."

Wallace grabs 27 rebounds

CHICAGO — Ben Wallace grabbed a season-high 27 rebounds and added 10 points to lead Chicago to a 117-111 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Wallace backed up a 20-rebound performance against the Sonics on Wednesday and was just one short of his career high.

"That's what we have to do. We've got to get back to playing defense," Wallace said. "Especially, we have to take care of our basket. We can't allow guys to walk down the lane and get layups. The starters and everyone who came off the bench did a great of the protecting the basket."

Bosh out indefinitely with knee injury

TORONTO — Raptors forward Chris Bosh missed Toronto's game against New Jersey and will be sidelined indefinitely because of an injured left knee.

Bosh missed his fourth straight game. The team said in a release that he'll be out "an indefinite period of time until the swelling and discomfort has completely dissipated."

Bosh injured the knee on Dec. 8 in Chicago but did make the trip to Florida for games against Orlando and Miami. The Raptors said he'll travel Sunday when they leave for a four game west-coast trip.

Bosh is averaging 20.5 points and 12.2 rebounds, but has been bothered by a variety of injuries this season. He's second behind Cleveland's LeBron James among Eastern Conference forwards after the first returns of balloting for the NBA All-Star Game.


• Detroit Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace will miss the next two games with an ankle injury.

Team president of basketball operations Joe Dumars made the announcement, saying Wallace will sit out today's game at New Jersey and against the Sonics at The Palace on Sunday.

Wallace has been bothered by a sore right ankle for more than a week.

• Already without Allen Iverson, the Philadelphia 76ers played without starting forward Chris Webber.

Webber didn't play because of a sprained right ankle sustained in Wednesday night's game against Boston.

• New Jersey forward Richard Jefferson missed the Nets' game against the Toronto Raptors with a sore right ankle. Jefferson is listed as day to day.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company




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