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Grizzlies expect Brewer's return; Gasol day-to-day

Ronnie Brewer appears fully recovered from the hamstring injury suffered in his debut with the Memphis Grizzlies three weeks ago, and is likely to return for tonight’s (Tuesday) home game against the Chicago Bulls.

Brewer seemed fully healed in a full-scale practice Monday, though not quite back to his previous speed. Still, even a portion of a step slow, Brewer should be an able contributor off the bench, which is what the Grizzlies were looking for when they traded for him an hour ahead of last month’s trade deadline. As a starter for the Utah Jazz before the trade, Brewer was a solid defender and a reliable third or fourth option offensively. It’s also instructive that starting Jazz point guard Deron Williams made no secret of his displeasure at losing Brewer as a running mate.

With Brewer apparently back in the fold, the Grizzlies are now worried about center Marc Gasol, who, a Monday MRI revealed, has a muscle strain in his neck. Gasol did not practice Monday, and is listed day-to-day. If Marc can’t go against the Bulls, Hasheem Thabeet and Hamed Haddadi should both see extended minutes.

Word is Bulls’ players Derrick Rose (the former Memphis Tigers standout) and Luol Deng may both miss the Grizzlies game with various ailments. Even if they play, this counts as a game the Grizzlies have to win to keep any playoff hopes alive.

Playoff standings update: as Tuesday’s games tip off, the Grizzlies (35-32) sit in tenth place in the Western Conference standings, in a virtual tie with ninth place Houston (34-31). Both are four games behind eighth place Portland (41-28), but the Rockets have the advantage in the loss column, which, as I have mentioned before, really counts this time of year. The Grizz are four losses behind Portland, seven behind seventh place San Antonio (39-25), and eight losses behind sixth place Phoenix (41-26). Not only must the Grizzlies catch Portland, they must also out-pace Houston (and, less problematically, 11th place, 33-35 New Orleans) while doing so. The Grizz head to Houston following the Bulls game for a Wednesday night game there. This stuff is not for the faint of heart.

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