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Grizzlies dominate paint vs Thunder's front line

Associated Press Modified: May 2, 2011 at 4:48 pm •  Published: May 2, 2011

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The arrival of Kendrick Perkins was expected to give the Oklahoma City Thunder the kind of inside muscle they needed to stand their ground with some of the NBA's beefiest big men.

In the opener of their Western Conference semifinal series with Memphis, it was the Grizzlies who did the bruising.

Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combined for 54 points and 23 rebounds in leading eighth-seeded Memphis to a road victory in Game 1 for the second straight series. The Grizzlies got 52 points in the paint, more than any team but the Los Angeles Lakers have scored against Oklahoma City with Perkins in the lineup.

"They played physical, they bullied us in the first game," guard James Harden said after practice Monday. "So, the second game, we just have to prepare and go out there and not make excuses and win a game."

Game 2 is Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.

The Grizzlies, who led the NBA with 51.5 points per game in the paint, averaged a whopping 59 against Oklahoma City while winning the regular-season series 3-1. The Thunder's only win came when Memphis scored 60 points inside but went 10-for-38 outside the paint, including 1 for 15 on 3-pointers.

"We just have to pack the paint," Harden said. "Pack the paint, clog it up, make them shoot outside jump shots. They lead the league in paint points, so we have to cover that up."

Randolph has set the Grizzlies' playoff scoring record in back-to-back games, with 31 points in Game 6 against top-seeded San Antonio and then 34 — along with 10 rebounds — in Game 1 at Oklahoma City.

He's had three games with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds against the Thunder.

"I think Zach showed you how much he can do if they don't double-team him," teammate Darrell Arthur said. "And if they do double-team, he's such a great passer out of the post that it doesn't really matter."

Randolph has become one of the stars of the playoffs, a player with no history of postseason success during his 10-year career leading a franchise that had never won a playoff series until knocking off top-seeded San Antonio a few days ago.

He was better known for some run-ins with the law. But after bouncing from Portland to New York to the Los Angeles Clippers, he has found a fit in Memphis.

"I think Zach is the epitome of life," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "When we're young people, we make mistakes. We do things that we shouldn't do, and we grow and become better men. Whether it's in this game or in life, that's what this world is all about."

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