Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are proving to be a tough tag team. They almost seem to be taking turns scoring, whether it’s Randolph with his layups and putbacks or Gasol with his hooks and jumpers. The duo has helped Memphis dominate inside and take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, with a chance to eliminate the Los Angeles Clippers. It’s a flashback to 2011, when Memphis upset No. 1 seed San Antonio before pushing Oklahoma City to seven games in the semifinals playing through the big men. “I’ve been fortunate as a coach to have two premier post players,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “And we can go inside, they can play outside. Both of them can pass the ball, and it’s a luxury not many coaches have and I’m thankful for that.” Game 6 is Friday night in Memphis. The Grizzlies had to go with their big men in 2011 because leading scorer Rudy Gay was sidelined by a shoulder injury. A year ago, Randolph played but was limited as he returned from a knee injury that kept him out much of the shortened season. He struggled to score as the Clippers took that series in seven games. Then new ownership traded Gay to Toronto on Jan. 30, choosing to go with Gasol and Randolph for the franchise’s third straight playoff run. They started slowly, as Memphis lost the first two games in Los Angeles. Now, Randolph is averaging 20.4 points, with Gasol scoring 18.8 points per game after a 103-93 win in Los Angeles on Tuesday night. They have helped the Grizzlies grab the rebounding edge in each of the past three wins, and Memphis has an NBA-best 83 second-chance points this postseason. The Grizzlies are averaging 45.2 points in the paint in this series. Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Randolph and Gasol control everything. “Their timing with their high-low is so good because Gasol puts so much pressure on you as a big (that) if you don’t pressure him, he shoots the basketball,” Del Negro said. “And if you do, now Zach has the one-on-one seal because they lift the other side. You know that’s why they won as many games as they did during the regular season and why they’re different with that matchup.” They’ve each taken turns as All-Stars, with Randolph in 2011 before Gasol went in 2012 and Randolph again this season. Randolph was in the front row last week as Gasol received the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year award. Gasol said they just have to get the ball to Randolph in the right spots, the closer to the basket the better. “He can hit anything he wants to,” Gasol said of Randolph.
Grizzlies ride power of big men Randolph, Gasol
Tennessean | May 2