Marc Gasol Injury: Memphis Grizzlies Center to Play Against Houston Rockets

Tom Firme@TFirmeAnalyst IIMarch 30, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 02:  Marc Gasol #33 of the Memphis Grizzlies attacks the basket against Jason Collins #34 and Tracy McGrady #1 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on February 2, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Marc Gasol will be able to play for the Memphis Grizzlies against the Houston Rockets on Friday. Ron Tillery of the Commercial Appeal tweeted that Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins put Gasol in the lineup.

Gasol missed the Grizzlies' win against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday after playing through an ankle sprain for more than a week. He aggravated it on Sunday in a win against the Los Angeles Lakers. Dante Cunningham started in his place.

Gasol had struggled through the Grizzlies' West Coast road trip, as he averaged 12.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 47.6 percent from the field playing through the injury.

The Spaniard, who earned his first All-Star selection this season, has been a big key this season for the Grizzlies. He's averaging 15.5 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, all career highs. He leads the team in blocks and rebounds.

Gasol didn't do well in the Grizzlies' loss at Houston on February 21. He scored 11 points on 3-of-8 shooting while pulling down seven rebounds.

Still, he'll be a big factor in the game. Gasol will battle in the post with Rockets center Samuel Dalembert, Houston's defensive leader.

Gasol will be needed to produce on both ends of the floor, as he'll be needed to slow the ninth-highest scoring team in the NBA.

The Grizzlies would have been at a loss without Gasol. While Cunningham can match up well with some players, he doesn't match up well against the thick Dalembert, who has a three-inch and 20-pound edge on Cunningham.

This is an important road game for the Grizzlies, who are fifth in the Western Conference and 2.5 games ahead of the Rockets. The Grizzlies need a win to help them through this critical stretch in their schedule, and they're surely happy to have Gasol in uniform for this contest.