Friday, February 1, 2013

Road Recap: Thunder 106, Grizzlies 89 — Three Issues of Ongoing Concern

Posted By on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Zach Randolph has been calling for the ball. Now hes likely to get it.
  • LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Zach Randolph has been calling for the ball. Now he's likely to get it.
Last night in Oklahoma City was the absolute worst way for the Grizzlies to begin life post-Rudy Gay: On the road, against arguably the best team in the NBA, which was, itself, coming off three days rest and into a nationally televised revenge game against a team that had beaten them in their building earlier in the season. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies were still wrapping their collective heads around a disruptive trade and were playing with only nine active bodies, three of which were first- or second-year players who have relatively minimal NBA game experience.

Needless to say, it didn't go well for the Griz. The Thunder went an entire quarter without having a possession end with a missed shot, on the way to building a 25-point lead. A bout of temporary insanity from Russell Westbrook and the Grizzlies' pride conspired to make it a game again in the second half, if briefly, with the Grizzlies coming back to within 10 points. But then Kevin Durant did Kevin Durant things.

With all those first-graph factors in mind and considering that the Grizzlies were playing without four potential rotation players in trade acquisitions Tayshaun Prince, Ed Davis, and Austin Daye and the still-recovering Quincy Pondexter, you can pretty well ignore this loss.

But there were a couple of problems — and one pre-game grenade — that underscore some big issues going forward in terms of whether this team can maintain it's stature post-trade:

Can Z-Bo Still Carry the Offensive Load?
Zach Randolph reacted to the Rudy Gay trade, in part, by suggesting it might allow him to become a bigger part of the offense, making this at least the third time in the past few weeks — including his Bulls post-game TV interview and his All-Star reaction — in which he's done a variation on “give me the ball more.”

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