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Grizz star in first postseason home victory

  • Written by Kelley Evans
  • Published in News
The script played out to the home fans’ heart-grabbing satisfaction as the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies defeated the NBA’s Western Conference top seed San Antonio Spurs 91-88.
Grizzlies cheer
Zach “Z-bo” Randolph does the “win-win” dance and his teammates celebrate after he hit the big three-point basket that put the Grizzlies up by five over the Spurs with less than a minute remaining in the game.

It was a star-studded event. Well, not exactly, but the scene was one to be remembered.

Mike Conley steals the ball from Tony Parker
Grizz guard Mike Conley steals the ball from Tony Parker in the fourth quarter of a game where every possession was pivotal.

three-point shot
With only a few seconds left in Game 3, Zach Randolph launched a three-pointer – catching the San Antonio Spurs off guard. It swished through, sealing the deal in a historic Grizz win. (Photos by Warren Roseborough)

Lights. Camera. Action. And action there was at the FedExForum before, during and after Game 3 unfolded on Saturday (April 23). The script played out to the home fans’ heart-grabbing satisfaction as the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies defeated the NBA’s Western Conference top seed San Antonio Spurs 91-88.

Now the Grizzlies are up 2-1 in the Round 1 series, with the needle on the “We-believe meter” having moved up a notch. Game 4 is Monday evening.

Ticket holders at what proved to be the Grizzlies’ first post-season victory found their seats adorned with a white Grizz towel. No instructions were needed. The 18,119 fans – minus a smattering of San Antonio faithful – started twirling them before the opening tip and kept it up throughout the game, which ended with ribbons and confetti reigning from the rafters as Spurs star Tim Duncan and crew whined about not getting a final timeout.

Game 3 was important for both teams. Statistics read that in a best-of-seven series, teams that win Game 3 at home win the series at least 76 percent of the time.

But it was the stats of Grizz forward Zach Randolph that had the crowd, standing, jumping and chanting  “Z-bo Z-bo, Z-bo.”

During a crucial fourth-quarter stretch, Duncan was unexpectedly assigned to cover Randolph. With 41.9 seconds on the clock, Randolph made a shot over Duncan from the three-point line that turned into the game winner.

“I got the ball, it was five seconds on the shot clock, I had a little space to see it so I just shot the shot and it went in,” Randolph said. “It felt real good, hitting that shot especially at that time of the game.”

At the end of the game, Zach did a dance that caught the eye of the crowd.

“That’s the win-win dance,” he said.

Randolph’s last-minute three-pointer caught Duncan off guard.

“I didn’t assume that was in his arsenal at that point of the game,” Duncan said. “I leaned back and tried to make sure that there wasn’t a quick big-to-big roll, but he hit a three from that range. It was a great shot.”

Grizz Head Coach Lionel Hollins said the play was meant for Grizz Center Marc Gasol.

“We were trying to run a play on the weak side, and we didn’t think (Tim) Duncan would leave Zach, but he did. Zach got the ball back and hit a big three.”

Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said “part of the playoffs is about making shots.”

“I thought Timmy (Duncan) did a good job,” he said. “One would probably think that you would like Zach (Randolph) to shoot the three, rather than continue to lay it in against you. It was a heck of a shot.”

The Spurs trailed the Grizzlies by 15 at one point in the game and went into the half down by 10. San Antonio fought back from the deficit and tied the game with a little over five minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Randolph finished the game with 25 points, with Gasol adding 17.

Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, sporting a brace on an injured elbow that kept him out of Game 1 (won by the Grizzlies), led the Spurs with 23 points and was ridden by a Grizz crowd that showed displeasure often and loudly.

Fans came dressed to cheer and jeer. One fan even had a homemade fathead poster with an image of Spurs guard Tony Parker’s ex-spouse – actress Eva Longoria – in a Grizzlies’ headband.

After the game, Popovich blew his top in the lobby of the Westin Hotel, where the Spurs are staying. Irritated by a Grizz supporter, the Spurs coach let loose with some fiery words, and he didn’t take kindly to an associate’s effort to restrain him.

Hollins said he is excited for the city of Memphis.

“I’m excited for our fans (that) have stuck by us all year long, and the players and what they’ve done to get to this point,” he said.

“We’ve still got miles to go, but I’m happy we are where we are.”

Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay Michael Heisley and Zach Randolpy
Grizz injured star Rudy Gay congratulates Randolph after the big win.

In Randolph, Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley has a winner.

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