OKC Thunder: Grizzlies still pose challenge without Zach Randolph

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER — Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison aren't expecting a vastly different Memphis team, despite the Grizzlies not having standout power forward Zach Randolph. “Everybody who plays for Memphis, they're just an immensely tough team,” Perkins said.
BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: January 9, 2012
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – With the loss of power forward Zach Randolph, the Memphis Grizzlies no doubt are different. And yet, they're the same.

In other words, the physical Grizzlies will still scratch and claw for a win.

"Oh, yeah," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said with a smile.

Riding a three-game winning streak that came in a three-day span, OKC (8-2) faces a wounded Memphis (3-5) team at 7 p.m. on Tuesday inside FedExForum.

Randolph is expected to miss 6-8 weeks after tearing a ligament in his right knee during a 104-64 loss at Chicago on New Year's Day.

"That's life," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said last week. "You have to go and play. He's not going to be here. We can't worry about what ifs and what we should do to get him back. This is where we are."

To fill the void previously created by the season-ending torn right Achilles tendon suffered by reserve forward Darrell Arthur, the Grizzlies obtained Marreese Speights from Philadelphia in a three-team deal that also had Memphis trade former Putnam City High School standout Xavier Henry to New Orleans.

Speights has career averages of 7.2 points and 3.7 rebounds in four seasons, but he erupted for 17 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals in Sunday night's 90-82 loss at the Los Angeles Lakers.

Speights (6-foot-10, 255 pounds), is similar in stature to Randolph (6-foot-9, 255), but Randolph arguably is the most efficient low-post scorer in the entire league.

"They're going to figure it out," Brooks said. "They've got some good players, but they're definitely a different team. He was a force and they have to make an adjustment without him, but coach Hollins is going to figure it out. They've still have some good players."

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THUNDER AT GRIZZLIES

When: 7 p.m., Tuesday

Where: FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn.

TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD Ch. 722)

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM

Three things to know

* To replace injured Zach Randolph (knee), Memphis acquired 6-foot-10, 255-pound Marreese Speights via Philadelphia in a three-team trade on Jan. 4.

* This will be the Thunder's final regular-season game at FedExForum. OKC won 98-95 here two weeks ago on some clutch shooting from Kevin Durant.

* Mike Conley left with an ankle injury 24 seconds into the previous game against the Thunder. Backup Jeremy Pargo had 15 points, 7 assists and 2 steals.

Projected starters

Thunder (8-2)

Pos. - Player - Ht. - Pts. - Reb. - Ast.

G - Russell Westbrook - 6-3 - 17.3 - 4.7 - 5.3

G - Thabo Sefolosha - 6-7 - 4.8 - 2.1 - 0.8

F - Kevin Durant - 6-9 - 25.7 - 6.5 - 3.5

F - Serge Ibaka - 6-10 - 7.5 - 6.1 - 2.2-x

C - Kendrick Perkins - 6-10 - 5.7 - 5.7 - 1.0

Grizzlies (3-5)

Pos. - Player - Ht. - Pts. - Reb. - Ast.

G - Mike Conley - 6-1 - 9.8 - 2.3 - 6.0

G - Tony Allen - 6-4 - 9.1 - 3.5 - 1.9-y

F - Rudy Gay - 6-8 - 16.4 - 7.5 - 1.8

F - Dante Cunningham - 6-8 - 4.3 - 3.5 - 0.4

C - Marc Gasol - 7-1 - 12.5 - 10.4 - 2.4

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