Thunder Vs. Grizzlies, Game 1: Zach Randolph Leads Memphis To Upset As Russell Westbrook Struggles

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Thunder Vs. Grizzlies, Game 1: The Zach Randolph Show Is In Effect

Zach Randolph came up big for Memphis again, posting 34 points and 10 rebounds as the Grizzlies defeated Oklahoma City, 114-101, in the opener of their second-round playoff series.

Coming off a 31 points and 11 rebounds performance on Friday, Randolph is making quite a name for himself. Grizzly fans are noticing and so is the rest of the country.

Randolph was, for a lack of better words, a force. He scored 34 points on 12-of-21 shooting, with both Randolph and Gasol hitting enough long jumpers to keep the defense honest. The step-outs by OKC allowed for Mike Conley and Tony Allen to see open cuts to the basket. With the Grizzlies among the league's worst in mid-range jumpers (24th, 38.4% shooting from 16-23 feet) and eFG% (27th, 50.1 eFG%), per HoopData, the fact that Z-Bo and Gasol added to the Grizz hitting mid-range jumpers helped open up the baseline and the cutting lanes in the paint.

After the game, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant said Randolph is the best power forward in the league. Asked what he thought of that assessment, Zach responded, "I gotta agree with that. Thanks KD."

Be sure to follow our Thunder vs. Grizzlies hub for full series coverage. For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City. For more on the Grizzlies, visit Straight Outta Vancouver.

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Thunder Vs. Grizzlies Final Score: Memphis Earns Game 1 Upset, 114-101

In case you were wondering whether the Memphis Grizzlies ending the San Antonio Spurs' season was going to be the height of their postseason, a dominant Game 1 performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder should be evidence that there's more to come. The Grizzlies beat the Thunder in Oklahoma City in today's Game 1, 114-101, becoming the first eighth seed in NBA history to win a best-of-seven series and then win Game 1 of the next series.

The most shocking thing may have been how easy it was for Memphis. The Grizzlies led from early in the first quarter, stretched that lead to double digits time and again, and withstood Thunder runs that narrowed it to as few as three points in the second half.

The Grizzlies played a ferocious game inside, and that was likely the difference: Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combined for 54 points and 22 rebounds, and held Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins to a combined 18 points.

With their frontcourt neutralized, the Thunder needed Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to step up more than they usually do. Durant answered the bell, scoring 33 points on 21 shots and pacing Oklahoma City; Westbrook, on the other hand, struggled, especially in the fourth quarter. Westbrook had 29 points on 23 shots, and was miserable at the rim, failing to finish six shots from point-blank range against Memphis' twin towers.

Game 2 of this series, which Memphis leads 1-0, is Tuesday in Oklahoma City.

Be sure to follow our Thunder vs. Grizzlies hub for full series coverage. For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City. For more on the Grizzlies, visit Straight Outta Vancouver.

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Thunder Vs. Grizzlies Score: Memphis Takes 84-71 Lead Into Fourth Quarter

If Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies was supposed to favor the home team, no one told the Grizzlies. Memphis has been dominant throughout, and holds a 84-71 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Memphis has gotten dominant play down low from Zack Randolph (26 points, 10 rebounds) and Marc Gasol (15 points), and all five Memphis starters have contributed at least eight points.

The Thunder haven't quite been able to match that, despite the best efforts of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Westbrook has 20 points on 15 shots, and Durant 20 on 14. That's not particularly efficient scoring, and as the Thunder's two superstars have been more or less their offense in this game — Serge Ibaka is the only other Thunder player in double figures — they'll need to either lock down on defense or improve their efficiency to come back.

Be sure to follow our Thunder vs. Grizzlies hub for full series coverage. For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City. For more on the Grizzlies, visit Straight Outta Vancouver.

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Thunder Vs. Grizzlies Score: Memphis Has Double-Digit Halftime Lead

Through the first half of Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinals series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, it doesn't look like the Memphis Grizzlies are suffering from any hangover after beating the San Antonio Spurs.

Memphis is up 57-47 at the half of this game, and has been by far the better team in the early goings. The Grizzlies led by as many as 16 points in the second quarter.

Zach Randolph, Memphis' fulcrum, has been stellar. His 14 points lead all Grizzlies, and he's added six rebounds en route to posting a +16 while on the court.

All five of Memphis' starters have at least six points, however, so Randolph isn't the only thing the Grizzlies have going.

For the Thunder, Russell Westbrook has 18 points, leading all scorers. But he's had to take 12 shots to get them, and has struggles with finishing at the rim. And his increased primacy has its roots in Kevin Durant having problems in the second quarter, when he scored just two points.

Both Westbrook and Durant have had ball security issues, too: Westbrook has four turnovers, Durant three.

Be sure to follow our Thunder vs. Grizzlies hub for full series coverage. For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City. For more on the Grizzlies, visit Straight Outta Vancouver.

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Thunder Vs. Grizzlies Score: Tight Game Has Memphis Up After First Quarter

In what shapes up as the NBA's showcase series for its youth movement in the 2011 NBA Playoffs, both the Grizzlies and the Thunder are off to a strong start in Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinals tussle.

Memphis leads, 28-24, after the first quarter of Game 1, and it can thank its interior play for that. Zach Randolph leads the Grizzlies with nine points, and Marc Gasol has added seven; those twin terrors down low have also done good work on Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins on the defensive end, allowing Oklahoma City's frontcourt to combine for just two points.

That's meant, for the Thunder, that the usual suspects have had to lead the charge. Russell Westbrook has 10 points, Kevin Durant has eight, and no other Thunder player has more than two.

Be sure to follow our Thunder vs. Grizzlies hub for full series coverage. For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City. For more on the Grizzlies, visit Straight Outta Vancouver.

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Joey Crawford Leads Referee Crew For Thunder Vs. Grizzlies Game 1

Joey Crawford will be the lead official for the Oklahoma City Thunder's Game 1 against the Memphis Grizzlies in the second round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs, which tips of Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on ABC. Crawford's presence would have been more notable if it were the San Antonio Spurs instead of the Grizzlies in this series; the vocal* vet has had serious run-ins with the Spurs, and particularly Tim Duncan, in the past.

Marc Davis and Zach Zarba will join Crawford on the sidelines. Sean Wright is the alternate.

The referees will be busy during this series. Oklahoma City drew fouls more frequently than any other team in the NBA during the regular season, and both teams play a physical defensive style that draws whistles often enough. Watching Kevin Durant's infamous rip move and Russell Westbrook's penetration will be particularly key.

 

 

* That's a nice way of putting it.

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Thunder Vs. Grizzlies, Game 1: Kevin Durant, Zach Randolph Meet As Contrasting NBA Playoff Heroes

Kevin Durant was the presumptive 2011 NBA MVP before Derrick Rose was the presumptive 2011 NBA MVP; more accurately, Durant was Rose before Rose was Rose. Seeking relief from the cynical, cold hegemony of LeBron James, the NBA world looked to embrace a fresher, more innocent face of the league after last year's NBA Playoffs. Durant led the United States to its first FIBA World Championship in more than a decade, doing what LeBron could not. That, plus his incredible humility in not having a 60-minute nationally televised production about his decision to extend his contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder, made Durant the new People's Champ ... until a rough stretch at the start of the NBA season vaulted Rose atop the NBA MVP Except LeBron Power Rankings. (We're a results-oriented bunch.)

Zach Randolph is closer to LeBron than KD, in hate most people do not like Zach Randolph. Those who do embrace the crazy, or are hip, or (in many cases) both. Zach Randolph is Williamsburg's idea of a heroic basketball player. The affectionately nicknamed Z-Bo has worn out his welcome every place he's been except with the Memphis Grizzlies. Oh, there have been opportunities to wear out his welcome in Memphis, like when a newspaper reported last summer that Randolph was being indicted on drug trafficking charges, and when last fall he got affronted that the Grizzlies wouldn't extend his magnificently large contract. But for whatever reason -- probably reasons of success heretofore unseen in the Memphis -- he remains in the good graces of Grizzlies fans, and now, hipster NBA fans. He's Alt KD, and he's popular because he was never popular.

It's an odd dichotomy, but one that pervades the Grizzlies-Thunder series tipping off on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, ABC). The Thunder are the chosen challenge, a rising squad with incredible young talent poised to challenge the Los Angeles Lakers in the coming years before ascending to favored status. The Grizzlies are ... no one really knows. The NBA is littered with bizarre teams that have epic but fleeting success. The We Believe! Warriors are the most obvious comparison, but that team spoke to a time (the up-tempo mid-00s) and an ethos. The Grizzlies are just weird: a low-post oriented squad with defensive-minded guards who can't shoot and an Iranian center on the bench. It's like a Hubie Brown dream gone terribly wrong.

But here they are, from different places and on different paths, ready to tussle in OKC. Be sure to follow our Thunder vs. Grizzlies hub for full series coverage. For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City. For more on the Grizzlies, visit Straight Outta Vancouver.

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