Grizzlies a Different Team from Mid-Season

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:23 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: May 2, 2011 8:0 PM CDT

Grant Belcher
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY – It’s hard to believe that halfway through the regular season, the Memphis Grizzlies had a losing record.

But regular season games are not all they lost. A few weeks past the midway point, Memphis lost former All-Star Rudy Gay for the remainder of the season to a shoulder injury.

The shorthanded Grizzlies somehow managed to squeak out a tight battle for the eighth playoff spot.

And now, they have dispatched the top-seeded Spurs and hold a 1-0 lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

OKC coach Scott Brooks said one of the things that makes the Grizzlies so formidable is that they take full advantage of every possession.

The Grizzlies earned 23 points off turnovers and pulled down 16 offensive rebounds.

“They did what they do well and they did it consistently,” Brooks said.

One big thing contributing to Memphis’ wild success is big man Zach Randolph.

Randolph, who played college ball at Michigan State, struggled to find an identity in the NBA in his stints with the Blazers and Knicks.

But there is no doubt who the Grizzlies’ go-to guy is these days, as Randolph put up an All-Star caliber season.

His numbers have been especially strong against Oklahoma City, averaging 26.5 points and 13 rebounds in four regular season games. He continued that dominance in Game 1 with 34 and 10.

The Thunder’s defense was largely ineffective in Game 1, as Randolph and center Marc Gasol combined for 54 points and 23 rebounds.

Brooks said his team has to play better defensively but the Grizzlies’ big men certainly made life hard on OKC.

“Zach made eight shots from the perimeter,” He said. “There’s nothing you can do about that other than pushing him outside of a few feet. Gasol made four jump shots, and that’s not a strength of his game, but they made them.

“We just have to do a better job of forcing them off their spots and contesting.”