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Oklahoma City Thunder: Add Zach Randolph to Steven Adams’ list of retaliation victims

The Thunder’s unflinching rookie center has frustrated another opponent enough to make him retaliate. Memphis’ Zach Randolph is the fifth player to get ejected or suspended for striking Adams.
by Anthony Slater Published: May 2, 2014

Stone Cold Steve Adams has struck again.

The Thunder’s unflinching rookie center has infuriated another opponent. He’s baited another into retaliation. And in doing so, he’s made his greatest contribution to the Thunder cause.

Late in Game 6 on Thursday night, as Adams and Zach Randolph were entangled behind a fast break, the Grizzlies’ All-Star forward swung and nailed Adams with a swift punch across the right jaw.

Referees didn’t catch it at the time, but the NBA released video of the incident on Friday afternoon. And with it, the league announced a surprising suspension for Randolph, who will miss Game 7 on Saturday night in Oklahoma City.

It’s a massive blow for the Grizzlies, who are already dealing with an injured Mike Conley and now must face the rejuvenated Thunder without their leading scorer and rebounder.

Tough break for Memphis. Good fortune for OKC. And Adams is to thank for that.

On Thursday, he was surprisingly reinserted into the Thunder’s rotation. Scott Brooks gave Adams 20 minutes — 11 more than he’d received in the previous four games combined — and Adams delivered, blocking five shots, disrupting Memphis’ offensive flow and allowing the Thunder to stay big while playing fast. He has rare speed, athleticism and stamina for a 7-footer and seems to always impact the game in his brief spurts, as long as he stays out of foul trouble.

“Gives us another physical body to throw at them guys,” Kevin Durant said.

And, apparently, a physical body that opponents don’t like bumping against. Randolph’s sly shot on Thursday night was far from a random act. It was just the latest in a line of retaliatory cracks taken at Adams in his rookie season.

Counting preseason games, Randolph was the fifth player — along with Nate Robinson, Vince Carter, Jordan Hamilton and Larry Sanders — to get either ejected or suspended for nailing Adams with an elbow, fist or forearm shiver.

In those instances, Adams picked up only a single technical, given for an inadvertent elbow that sent Carter off.

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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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