Grizzlies stopped yet again in playoffs by lack of outside shooting; Gasol pending free agent

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MEMPHIS, Tennessee — For the fifth straight year, the Memphis Grizzlies have come up short of the NBA championship they want so badly.

After losing to the Golden State Warriors, they head into another offseason looking for the same thing to help them go further — better outside shooting.

But first the Grizzlies have to convince All-Star center Marc Gasol that Memphis is where he should stay and off the free agent market. Gasol planned to consider his options this offseason, which arrived Friday night when the Warriors beat the Grizzlies in six games in the Western Conference semifinals.

"I haven't even spent a second thinking of that," said Gasol after a 108-95 loss to Golden State. "I'm drained right now."

Gasol has become an integral part of Memphis' most successful five years in franchise history, along with Zach Randolph, point guard Mike Conley and defensive whiz Tony Allen. Randolph is under contract for two more seasons, and he said Gasol is like a brother.

"Like I told him: 'I love you, man. You know where I want you at. And whatever makes you happy,'" Randolph said of Gasol's pending decision.

Allen says Gasol knows this organization and all the Grizzlies. He sees the 7-foot-1 center from Spain as a big part of Memphis' success.

"If I had to guess, I would say yes (Gasol stays)," Allen said. "But you know, it's a business, and I understand everything about it, and you have to do what's best for him and his family."

Gasol certainly did his best to keep Memphis alive for another game, scoring 21 points, grabbing 15 rebounds and blocking five shots. He also had four assists.

But for a third straight game, Golden State managed to flood the paint with an extra defender and harassed Memphis into another poor shooting performance inside. The Grizzlies couldn't back anyone out as MVP Stephen Curry wound up hitting more 3s (25) than the Grizzlies managed in the six-game series (24).

"Basically they just jammed it up and dared us to shoot it from the perimeter," coach Dave Joerger said. "Not just one guy, but they dared all of our guys."

That left Memphis losing in the conference semifinal for second time since 2011, a painful loss for a franchise that won at least 50 games for a third straight season.

"First round, second round, the finals, whatever," Randolph said. "If you don't win that ring, it's always a disappointment."

Both Randolph and Conley said the Grizzlies just need to add a few more pieces to help spread the floor a bit. The Grizzlies ranked second in the percentage of points from 2-point range but only 29th in that category outside the arc. Conley said they have to play through their strengths in their big men.

"We can't change that," Conley said. "We just have to work with what we have. We've done a phenomenal job with it, but I think us going into next season, we have to find ways to free up guys on the outside, get guys that can get easy looks, try to open up and knock them down and get more opportunities for our big guys."

The Grizzlies lost even with Conley returning only eight days after surgery to repair broken bones in his face. The guard played the final four games against Golden State wearing a protective mask. Allen aggravated his left hamstring in Game 3.

Joerger made a point of thanking controlling owner Robert Pera for the resources provided both to players and coaches.

"All he wants us to do is keep getting better," Joerger said. "That's what we're going to try to do."


AP freelance writer Clay Bailey contributed to this report.

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