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Grizz step-up in Z-Bo’s absence

  • Written by Kelley Evans
  • Published in Sports

Fans entered the FedExForum on Tuesday (Jan. 3) wanting answers. They had questions about the health of Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph, and rightly so.

 Rudy Gay finished with 23 points and 8 rebounds as the Grizz took care of the Sacramento Kings, 113-96 on Tuesday at the FedExForum. (Photo by Warren Roseborough)

The painful answer came on Wednesday as a MRI  (magnetic resonance imaging) revealed that Randolph has a torn right MCL (medial collateral ligament). He is expected to be out for up to eight weeks, according to team physician Dr. Fred Azar.

Randolph sustained the injury in the first quarter on Jan. 1 at Chicago, when the Grizzlies suffered a resounding 40-point loss to the Bulls, 104-64. He took a fall after teammate O.J. Mayo, who was making his way into the paint, collided with the knees of the double-double king.

Z-Bo’s absence was the only thing affecting Memphis’ starting lineup at the tipoff. In addition to Dante Cunningham starting at power forward, Jeremy Pargo was in at point guard for Mike Conley.

With five minutes-plus left in the first quarter, Conley entered the game after missing the Bulls debacle with an ankle sprain.

“I couldn’t sit on the bench and watch another game pass,” Conley said.

The Grizzlies, bouncing back from the Chicago sting, defeated the Sacramento Kings 113-96 and Rudy Gay was the leader of the pack.

Conley spent 22 minutes running the floor and finished with 14 points.

“That was big. Mike, the last couple days, has been chomping at the bit, saying that he wanted to play,” said Grizz head coach Lionel Hollins. “And the training staff was saying to give him one more day. I did not actually expect him to play until this morning. He said he wanted to go. I said he knows his body and if he thinks that he’s ready, then we should let him go.

“We certainly need his direction and the combination of him and (Jeremy) Pargo is a nice combination to have,” said Hollins. “Mike did an outstanding job for us tonight, coming back after being out for a couple of games.”

Gay finished with 23 points and eight rebounds followed by Sam Young with 20 points and seven rebounds.  Mayo pitched in 16 points and center Marc Gasol led on the boards with 15 rebounds.

“We started out with some momentum going into it,” Gay said.  “It feels good to play at home and win.”

Gasol attributed the win to teamwork.

“At the end of the day, that’s all it is,” Gasol said. “You have to play team basketball in order to win. We were at the very bottom, so it was a must-win, especially at home.”

Kings Guard Jimmer Fredette led the team in scoring with 17 points.

“We were trying to claw back in as much as we could,” Fredette said. “They did a good job in the third quarter getting a jump on us, getting that lead and staying with it through the fourth.”

Grizz Notes:

The Memphis Grizzlies notched their first road win on Wednesday (Jan. 4) 90-86, defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Grizz acquired forward/center Marreese Speights from the Philadelphia 76ers as part of a three-team trade also involving the New Orleans Hornets. As part of the deal, Memphis traded guard Xavier Henry to New Orleans and a 2012 second round draft pick to Philadelphia.  The Hornets also sent a future second round pick to the 76ers.

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