Stars align for Grizzlies rout
The 2011 All-Star Game is a month in the past and likely the furthest thing on Zach Randolph’s mind as the Grizzlies make a push to the playoffs.
Still, can we get a re-vote?
Z-Bo dominated his match-up with All-Star forward Blake Griffin and the Memphis Grizzlies did the same to the Los Angeles Clippers, earning a 105-82 rout over the Clips at FedExForum Monday night.
Randolph carried the Grizzlies with his sixth 30-10 game of the year (30 points, 12 rebounds), including 21 points in the first half, while Griffin was held to a career-low eight points on 4-of-10 shooting.
So did the match-up against Griffin, one of the players chosen over Randolph to represent the Western Conference last month, give the Grizzlies big man a little extra motivation? Yes and no.
“It is definitely a little personal,” Randolph said. “But I take it personally every time I step on the court. I try to play the same night-in and night-out and stay consistent.”
And consistent he was, as were the rest of the Grizzlies, who led by as many as 31 (88-57 with 7:57 left in the third) en route to a wire-to-wire victory. Coming off back-to-back losses—a rarity these days for the Grizz—Memphis avoided a third by upping the effort on the defensive end. After allowing opponents to score over 100 points in a season-high four consecutive games, the Grizzlies held the Clippers to 82 on .400 shooting, including a .326 percentage in the first half.
“Our defense was solid in the early part of the game,” said Grizzlies Head Coach Lionel Hollins. “When we came out in the third quarter, I thought we did a nice job coming out with the same intensity and that allowed us to improve the lead.”
The Grizzlies defensive intensity led to 14 steals and eight blocks in the game, helping them to an NBA season-high tying 28-point disparity on the fast break (30-2).
Memphis did most of its damage in a 29-16 second quarter, demoralizing a road-weary Clippers team concluding a five-game trip away from home. A nine-point lead with 4:00 to play in the first half quickly turned into a 17-point advantage (50-33) when the Grizzlies closed the second quarter on an 11-3 run. Los Angeles never got closer than 12 points for the remainder of the game.
The Clippers, winners of five of their last six, knew what they were up against.
“I would say this was probably a trap game of sorts,” said Mo Williams. “It was the last game of the road trip and we’ve been playing pretty well.”
The Grizzlies made sure to take advantage of the situation with contributions from almost everyone, including a career-high 11 points for rookie Greivis Vasquez. Sam Young added 14 points and Mike Conley scored 13 as Darrell Arthur tacked on 12 off the bench.
But the real story was Randolph, who, if nothing else, is finally getting the recognition he deserved one month ago.
“He’s an All-Star, in my opinion,” said Williams. “He was one of the guys that got snubbed this year. He’s a double-double-type guy each and every single night.”
While Williams singled out Randolph, Clippers Head Coach Vinny Del Negro correctly implied that Z-Bo didn’t do it alone.
“It wasn’t really Zach as much, although he had an excellent game,” he said. “It was everyone else just outhustling us. Tony (Allen) was in passing lanes. I thought (Mike) Conley got loose too much.
“They were meaner, tougher and faster.”
Randolph will be just fine with the praise for the collective effort of the entire team rather than focusing on his individual achievements. At least its consistent.