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Pau is happy it was the Spurs _ an not the Lakers _ playing the Grizzlies to open the playoffs.

“I didn’t want to cross with him because I would have to beat him, basically, beat him and his team. In another way, I thought that they would have been extremely challenging. They would have tested us and given us a lot of problems,” Pau said. “We would have had to really tune in and do our best to beat them, and that would have put us to another level.”

But Pau can’t completely escape his little brother’s success.

As the Lakers were going down 0-2 to Dallas in the semifinals on Wednesday night, someone yelled: “Play like your brother, Pau!”

That’s not really an option for Pau. Marc is very different player; he is a true center. Pau is more a power forward. Marc is an inch taller at 7-foot-1 and 15 pounds heavier at 265. He averaged 11.7 points and seven rebounds per game during the regular season, numbers he’s upped to 14.6 points and 12.1 rebounds in the postseason.

Shane Battier played with Pau in Memphis and is playing with Marc after the Grizzlies brought him back at the trade deadline. Battier says they approach the game differently: Pau uses his skills with both hands to dominant; Marc takes advantage of his size and length.

Marc is much more gregarious. A back-slapper. Pau was more introverted. Both great guys and great teammates, but they’re different people. Both are good players and good people,” Battier said.

Marc is also stretching his game to include short and mid-range jumpers he used to avoid. March and Zach Randolph, the Grizzlies’ leading scorer, have become a formidable duo in the post. Randolph says Marc one of the NBA’s top five centers.

“He’s got a very high IQ. he plays the game the right way, a very unselfish player. He can score around the basket, he’s got good hands and just all-around a good player,” Randolph said. “We’ve got to milk him, and he’s got to stay confident. He’s got to take shots and I tell him he’s got to be aggressive … from here on out.”

Rudy Fernandez of the Portland Trail Blazers is close with both Gasol brothers, having played on the Spanish national team with Marc. He can’t choose between them and notes that any pressure Marc might have faced being Pau’s younger brother is gone now.

“I think right now he’s focusing on himself,” Fernandez said. “He’s focusing on the job and he’s improving every day.”

Pau hopes the Grizzlies remain committed to winning while Marc’s on the roster. The Grizzlies signed Rudy Gay to an extension last summer, and Randolph signed his new deal a couple weeks ago after being promised they will keep Marc, a restricted free agent.

But that’s down the road. Right now, Marc is the Thunder’s problem with Game 3 in their series on Saturday in Memphis.

“He’s really come a long way,” Thunder power forward Nick Collison said. “A big guy, really skilled. A tough guy, too. He’s tough. He mixes it up in there. Then they play really well high-low together, so it’ll make it hard to front the post. We’ll have our hands full inside, for sure.”

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