Young, talented Grizzlies look a lot like the Thunder

BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: May 2, 2011

By now, you're quite familiar with the team description.

We're talking about a young, athletically gifted NBA squad on the rise, featuring a go-to player who somehow manages to still score despite facing every type of defense imaginable. The team is constantly smiling, and with good reason, given its steady rise in very little time. Whatever adjustments an opponent throws at them, no big deal, they'll stick to their game plan and try to win their own way. No one seems to have a care in the world, evident by the lighthearted horseplay before or after practice.

Exactly who do the Memphis Grizzlies think they are? The Oklahoma City Thunder?

The Grizzlies turned heads with their convincing conquest over top-seeded San Antonio in the opening round of the playoffs. Those same heads did a double-take Sunday afternoon when Memphis throttled the Thunder 114-101 inside Oklahoma City Arena in Game 1 of a Western Conference semifinal.

Game 2 is Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. inside the same building, and whatever adjustments the Thunder plans to make, a confident bunch of Grizzlies don't seem particularly concerned.

"There's only so many changes you can make, and we've seen a lot," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "The same thing holds true for them against us. They've seen all of our sets, and they're going to come and play the way they play. You've got to play the game."

Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph mauled OKC for 34 points, 10 rebounds (four offensive), plus a game-high three steals in Game 1. During the regular season, he averaged 26.5 points, 13.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals against the Thunder.

The only team Randolph averaged more points against this season was Detroit (27.5), and these days it's never good when an opponent treats you like you're the Pistons.

OKC did not double-team Randolph on Sunday and might, or might not, double him on Tuesday — which on Monday simply made Randolph shrug.

"I done seen it all during the regular season," the 6-foot-9, 260-pound Randolph said of opposing defensive tactics.

Memphis center Marc Gasol added 20 points (9 for 11 from the field), 13 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and a steal in Game 1. The Grizzlies also have forwards Sam Young, Shane Battier and Darrell Arthur and effective perimeter players in Mike Conley, Tony Allen and O.J. Mayo.

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