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Jenni Carlson: Thunder must counter Zach Attack

by Jenni Carlson Published: May 2, 2011

We posed the question about Zach Randolph in big, bold letters on the front of the sports section Sunday morning.


He answered as emphatically Sunday afternoon.


The Memphis big man continued his string of dominating performances in the first game of this conference semifinal playoff series. He scored 34 points, though it seemed like 54. He hit 12 of 22 shots, though it is hard to remember him missing one shot much less 10 of them.

On an afternoon when the Grizzlies smacked the Thunder 114-101, Randolph served notice.

Kevin Durant? Russell Westbrook?

Nah, he intends to be the best in this series.

“We gotta make him shoot tougher shots, but if he's making 'em, you can't stop him,” Durant said. “He's an animal.

“He's the best power forward in the league, I think.”

Randolph's take?

“Yeah, I gotta agree with that,” he said of Durant's assessment.

He smiled and chuckled.

“Thanks, KD.”

Randolph has never been known for his modesty, and frankly, that's one of the reasons he's never been as popular as his game should've made him. He's been among the most talented scorers in the NBA for nearly a decade, but fans have often been turned off by his character flaws.

He's had run-ins with the law. He's brawled with a teammate. He's even punched Suns' forward Louis Amundson during a game a couple years ago.

But in Memphis, Randolph has found a home. Not only has he steered clear of trouble, but he's also guided the long-suffering Grizzlies to glory.

“I think Zach is the epitome of life,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “When we are young people, we make mistakes, we do things that we shouldn't do, and we grow and become better.”

by Jenni Carlson
Reporter and Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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