Pau Gasol (24pts/14rebs/7blks) vs Jermaine O’Neal (23pts/15rebs/5blks) (2003)

February 18 2003

Before the trade to L.A., Pau Gasol was silently carving up the league’s best power forwards inside the Pyramid Arena. This included Jermaine O’Neal, who by this time had established himself as one of the better bigs in the league in Indiana. Gasol and O’Neal go head to head for much of this game, with the two putting up near identical stat lines.

Jermaine O’Neal did not get as much love as he should’ve for this performance on this Memphis telecast, the man finished with 23 points, 15 rebounds and 5 blocks, going 10 of 19 from the field. This season the All-Star 23 year old averaged 20.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks a night. After years of waiting his chance in Portland (sounds familiar-Drazen Petrovic), O’Neal blossomed in Indiana into a perrennial all-star from ages 23 to 28. The best center/PF (I don’t care which, he’s the best either way) in Indiana Pacers history. Will he receive this praise from the Pacers themselves? Who knows.

22 year old Pau Gasol averaged 19.0 points per game, 8.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game this season. With everything that was going on in the mid-2000s NBA, there was a young 7 foot European forward in Memphis, putting up big stat lines like this one: 24 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 blocks. Thanks to a trade to L.A., the nation was introduced to Pau Gasol.