Wednesday , April 24, 2013 - 2:39 PM
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Grizzlies center Marc Gasol has won his first NBA Defensive Player of the Year award after anchoring the league’s stingiest defense.
Gasol received 212 points and 30 first-place votes to edge Miami’s LeBron James, who had 149 points and 18 first-place votes, the NBA announced Wednesday.
“It’s a great honor,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “Marc’s played well. There’s a lot of other guys that are worthy, you know. They saw fit to give Marc the award, and he was deserving.”
The 7-foot-1 Spaniard averaged 1.7 blocks and 1.0 steals for a Memphis defense that allowed a league-best 88.7 points per game. The five-year veteran ranked 12th in the league in blocks.
Memphis became the first team to hold opponents below 90 points per game in a season since 2005-06 when both the Grizzlies (88.5) and San Antonio (88.8) accomplished the feat.
Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka was third with 122 points and 14 first-place votes. The 28-year-old Gasol becomes the first Grizzlies player to earn defensive player honors, and he did it in a season when he wasn’t an All-Star.
He also had to beat out two teammates in Tony Allen, who received 102 points and nine first-place votes, and guard Mike Conley, who received a point.
Allen was picked for the NBA’s All-Defensive team a year ago and finished sixth in voting for Defensive Player of the Year. The Grizzlies held opponents to an average of 6.8 fewer points with Gasol on the court, the same stat with Allen on the court. Allen said he was happy for Gasol.
“Somebody else would’ve got Defensive Player of the Year, I would’ve been highly upset,” Allen said. “It just goes to show you how big our Memphis Grizzlies have grown on the defensive end. You look back, the Memphis Grizzlies have never been looked at as a defensive team. You look how we put that brand of basketball into this organization, it’s just a big compliment. I’m glad he got that award.”
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