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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Thunder big men anticipate still having plenty of contact against Memphis.

"Everybody who plays for Memphis, they're just an immensely tough team," OKC starting center Kendrick Perkins said. "They're going to out-bang you, out-work you and that's how they find ways to win every night.

"He (Randolph) gives them that inside scoring presence. He brings another type of leadership and a physical toughness to that team, but they're still a great team. He just makes them that much better."

OKC survived last year's Western Conference semifinal against Memphis, winning 4-3 to advance to the conference finals against Dallas.

In Game 1 against the Thunder, Randolph had 34 points, 10 rebounds and three steals in the Grizzlies' methodical 114-101 victory inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.

"He's a load, for sure," said reserve power forward Nick Collison, whose physical presence while defending Randolph was a key ingredient in the Thunder advancing. "He draws a lot of attention. For guys who have to match up with him, it's a tough night."

Randolph has a tremendous supporting cast in forward Rudy Gay, center Marc Gasol, point guard Mike Conley, reserve guard O.J. Mayo and former Oklahoma State standout Tony Allen.

"They are still a very talented team," Collison said. "Last year they didn't have Rudy Gay and now they have him back. I'm sure they're going to still be tough and find different ways to play. They've still got Gasol inside, so they still have a nice balance.

"I assume it will be another tough game."



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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