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Memphis' Zach Randolph a real pain for Thunder

BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Modified: January 7, 2011 at 9:12 pm •  Published: January 7, 2011

Scott Brooks was asked Friday which Western Conference players would make his cut as All-Star reserves. The Thunder coach jokingly asked which team was next on the schedule.

Almost immediately, Brooks then made sure he included Memphis forward Zach Randolph.

Think that'll convince “Z-Bo” to go easy on the Thunder tonight? Not much else has worked against the Grizzlies' bruiser.

Before Tuesday night, Randolph had quietly become one of the Thunder's biggest thorns. In the Grizzlies' 110-105 win over the Thunder four days ago at FedEx Forum, though, Randolph exploded for his best game yet against OKC, effectively establishing himself as a perennial pest.

Randolph scored 31 points with 16 rebounds, both game-highs, and made 11 of 20 shots from the field while swishing nine of 10 free throws.

Now, as the teams prepare for a rapid rematch inside Oklahoma City Arena tonight at 7, the key for the Thunder will be how it handles the Grizzlies' 6-foot-9, 260-pound power forward.

“We have to limit his catches as much as we can,” Brooks said. “He's as strong as anybody in the league at that spot. He just knows how to score down there. It's not just against us. He does it against the league. We just have to use our quickness. We have to get in front of him and try to avoid the easy catches that he gets.”

In six career games against the Thunder, Randolph has averaged 24.5 points and 14.3 rebounds while shooting 45.8 percent from the field. The Grizzlies are 4-2 in those games.

On Tuesday, Randolph helped Memphis out-rebound Oklahoma City 42-31, including 12-3 on the offensive end. The Grizzlies racked up 54 points in the paint and outscored the Thunder 18-8 in second-chance points.

“They had their way with us inside,” Brooks said.

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Thunder vs. Grizzlies

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Oklahoma City Arena

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

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM

THREE THINGS TO KNOW

*This is the second of four meetings between the teams. The Thunder lost, 110-105, to the Grizzlies on Tuesday at FedEx Forum.

*Memphis played Utah on Friday night. The Grizzlies are 5-6 on the second night of back-to-backs this season.

*The Thunder is 18-4 when scoring at least 100 points. The Grizzlies are 2-14 when they allow at least 100 points.

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