We’re about to find out exactly how much grit and grind these Grizzlies have got.
On the eve of its winner-take-all Game 7, Memphis learned that it will be without forward Zach Randolph on Saturday night against the Thunder. The NBA suspended Randolph one game without pay for punching Thunder center Steven Adams in Game 6 on Thursday night.
The loss is a huge blow for the Grizzlies, who are anything but an offense juggernaut and just dropped Game 6 on its home floor by 20 points. Memphis must now find a way to compete in a raucous road environment without one of its best players and biggest weapons.
Randolph was the Grizzlies’ leading scorer in this series at 18.2 points per game. He’s also averaged 8.7 rebounds, tying center Marc Gasol for the team lead.
Randolph had been in check by the Thunder for much of the series. Led by some stellar defense by center Kendrick Perkins, Randolph has scored 109 points on 104 shots. He is shooting just 40.4 percent in the series.
But he appeared to be hitting his stride in Game 6. He scored the Grizzlies’ first eight points and finished with 16 points on 7-for-14 shooting, the second straight game he connected on at least 50 percent of his field goal attempts after being held under 40 percent in three of the first four games.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Randolph is the first player ever to miss a Game 7 after leading his team in scoring in the series while playing in each of the first six games.
It’s unclear who the Grizzlies will turn to as his replacement.
The incident occurred with 6:42 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Thunder’s 104-84 win at FedExForum. Randolph and Adams got tangled while transitioning down the court after the Thunder took possession. Shoving began, and Randolph turned and punched Adams in the jaw.
The officials whistled Randolph for a common foul, and he was allowed to stay in the game.
Here is video of the incident via NBA.com: http://on.nba.com/1iSWqlW