Smack / May 14, 2011 / 1:17 am

The Return Of Z-Bo The Great

Zach Randolph

Zach Randolph (photo. Nike)

For four games, Zach Randolph was held down. His shooting percentages dropped (never hitting above 36 percent). But the odds that the NBA’s Cinderella would go another 48 playing like Oliver Miller? 1 to 10. Or something like that. Randolph took over Game 6 in the fourth quarter, helping Memphis grind out a 95-83 win to send it back to Oklahoma City for Game 7. Randolph (30 points, 13 rebounds) was a beast throughout the final quarter, scoring on drop steps and hook shots. He also hit three or four jumpers right over the top of Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins. Memphis coach Lionel Hollins knew his big man needed more space, and started O.J. Mayo (16 points, four steals) because of that. It made a huge difference. In the first half, Memphis was in trouble. But once their leader picked it up, the game changed. As only Mark Jackson could say, Z-Bo has “developed a relationship with the rim.” If they’re really that close, we wonder what Randolph named it. Papa Gino? … The Grizzlies defense was incredible in the second half, holding the Thunder to just 29 points and grinding their way back into the game after falling behind late in the first half. They doubled Kevin Durant (3-for-14, 11 points) at times, and played him extremely physical. He never gained a rhythm, instead lofting jumpers from the top of the key nearly every time he touched it. People have complained for the past few weeks about Russell Westbrook (27 points) not getting the ball enough to Durant, but last night, KD didn’t want it. He looked shy, and rattled. He’s letting Memphis push him around and dictate where he gets the ball…surprising for the league’s best scorer. If you had never watched basketball before, and we told you in the second half that Durant was one of the best players in the world, you would’ve raised an eyebrow. He was Kate Moss at 10 a.m. after a long night out: a step slow on everything, energy-depleted and content to chill 25 feet from the rim … So when is someone going to call out Scott Brooks? We guess we just did. The Thunder’s fourth-quarter execution has been terrible for weeks now. Besides looking like he’s in the wrong sport (does that guy not look exactly like a typical hockey coach?), Brooks might be out of his element this deep in the playoffs … Al Green and NBA super fan Jimmy Goldstein were both in the house, raising the level of amazing-ness to near Downey Jr.-in-Tropic-Thunder levels … Right from the start, the game was physical and the players were ornery. Shane Battier, Westbrook, Randolph and Serge Ibaka all got into it early. Jeff Van Gundy, who coached Battier in Houston, called him sneaky dirty. Whatever’s in the rulebook, he’s going to use. He zinged in, got a shot in on Westbrook, and then was gone. We haven’t seen that kind of backpedaling since ‘Melo slapped Mardy. Sorry for the second Anchorman reference in as many nights, but the first quarter felt like the beginning of the TV-station street brawl. We were just waiting on someone to pull out a trident and kill somebody. And within the first two minutes, the Thunder had already stacked up four turnovers. Not a good sign. It went back and forth until OKC asserted themselves with a 16-4 run late in the first half. The Notorious J.V.G. said he could feel the tension, could see that the crowd was nervous. He was right. Then, back-to-back threes from James Harden (14 points) put the Thunder up 13. In the second quarter, Oklahoma City outrebounded the hosts 16-4 … The lead wouldn’t last in the second half. Take away the Game 5 blowout and this series has been incredibly up and down. It’s so evenly matched that a 15-point second-half lead is nothing. The teams just trade body blows and haymakers, never dying, always retaliating. Back and forth, we’ve been on our toes every minute, every possession. It’s like that pretty girl Denise that you discover lives down the hall from you during freshman year. One day, she’s leading you on, smiling, giving you the digits. The next night, you text her, and she doesn’t get back until the party’s already over. One day she’s wearing the skimpiest skirt you’ve ever seen, flaunting it all right in front of you. The next, it’s sweats with the logo nearly worn off. Six games in and we still don’t know what to expect. It’s all added up to by far the most exciting playoff series thus far, and figures to be a complete war in Game 7 … Despite all of that, we still like OKC back home in Game 7. Who does everyone else have? … Darrell Arthur very nearly had the dunk of the playoffs … Of course, Friday the 13th had to be Dennis Rodman‘s birthday. We aren’t sure how he celebrated, but given his recent history, it probably involved dozens of droopy-eyed strippers, Henny and a whole lot of finger food … We’re out like Durant operating in the paint.

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  • Big Island

    Love this series!

  • http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com deron

    Good job, Z-Bo and Memphis. Way to defend home-court. That being said, OKC will win Sunday at home; KD is going to have more than 12 points.

    We finally got a Game 7 in the playoffs; now we’re going to hear the misleading stat about home teams winning Game Seven 75% or 80% of the time. They’re at home because they have the better record and are probably the better team anyway.


  • pipdaddyy

    To be honest I also questioned Westbrook’s late game play a lot, but its time to call out Durant too … but somehow I get the feeling that he’ll get a pass. “Just had an off game.”

    Thunder take game 7 nonetheless.

  • Young Gunner

    What the hell is up with all these metaphors?

  • Jane

    I agree with Durant being pushed around too much…people say a lot of crap about Westbrook these days, but it’s really hard to find KD open for good shots when he’s not as aggressive against the defense.

  • trollne1

    Does Smack have a required minimum number of words? Who the fark is Denise and why the many lines for her?

    I just hope Randolph doesnt try to beat OKC all by himself next game or Memphis might be in trouble.

  • the_don_mega

    Grizzlies are legit… win or lose… they earned my respect…

  • Soopa

    Horrible 2nd half by OKC. Nothing going for them offensively and didnt get a stop during the 4th (or so it seemed).

    I proclaimed that Durant would go 35+. Oops… But if you say how he came out and had 5 quick points you’d think it would happen. But that 2nd foul of his absolutely smashed his rhythm.

    Are we sure its the correct decision by Brooks to take Durant out with the 2 fouls? Has he EVER fouled out of a game? The stakes are high and not having Durant to end the game would be devastating, but come on… Put Durant on Allen/Battier and just tell him not to do anything dumb.

    Whats the most fun: Watching Perkins sprint or hearing the announcer yell “Randolph for threeeeeee”?

  • knoc99

    wish i stopped reading after papa gino and just looked at the highlights.

  • Denise

    I’m married and have 3 kids now. Please stop referencing my teenage years.

  • totes

    Agree w/ prev. poster. Article has too many distracting insider references. I’d prefer more meaty analysis.

  • That’s What’s Up

    I had plenty of those Denise’s back in the day, along with plenty of finger food.

    Does this Game 7 seem like it will be the most uneventful Game 7 to ever be played?
    …either way I am watching it…

  • dudehowdy

    Props to memphis – could have just withered and died but came back to get a game 7. Hoping for another triple overtime…

  • http://www.centercourtbasketball.com CCB

    I can’t stand on the sidelines anymore. No one is saying it, but against the West the Memphis Grizzlies dominated this season. This is only a surprise to people outside of Memphis who didn’t get to see them that much. They are a problem because of their depth and defense, not to mention Hollins has been able to do a great job adjusting at the half in both series so far. During the regular season Memphis beat the Thunder, they tied the Spurs and they beat the Mavericks. Look it up. I gave my ultimatum on Game 7 today. If Russell Westbrook doesn’t have 7 assists, the Thunder will lose. That is all.

  • bookkwormmaster

    To my Atlanta Hawks; THAT is HOW you come out and COMPETE and force a Game 7

    Man OKC choked BIG time. They were up as much as 13 points and had Memphis reeling on the ropes and couldn’t deliver the knockout blow. KD getting in early foul trouble not only threw him off the rest of the game but it also clearly rattled his teammates as well. Westbrook went into Starbury mode and everybody except James Harden couldn’t buy a basket. Without Durant to attract the defensive attention that he does OKC probably has the ugliest offense of any team in the L. Dallas is hoping and praying OKC wins Game 7.

    MAJOR props to Memphis all around. First, great chess move by Lionel Hollins to insert OJ Mayo into the starting lineup in place of Sam Young (who imo is a bum). He played a phenominal game on both ends of the floor. Second, Z-Bo bounced back from an ugly performance in Game 5 and was straight beastin’ anybody OKC tried to put on him. He was totally focused and determined to lead his team. And last but not least major props to the entire Memphis squad for NOT GIVING UP! The showed unbelievable heart and grit and showcased to the world an admirable performance.

    I think OKC is done. I felt like Game 6 was a must win situation for them and like I said they choked away a great oppurtunity. I feel like Memphis has the advantage in momentum. Also Memphis has already gone on the road and won against San Antonio so I think that gives them an advantage psychologically. All the pressure is on OKC

  • ManilaFTW

    i guess were back to the same smack writer who had that 5-sentence metaphor about a waiter a couple of weeks back.

    dime, cmon. can you really imagine someone dropping a metaphor that long in person? with that weak of a punchline?

    fuck i cant even believe im wasting my time writing this.

    but good series yea, blah blah

  • JAY

    Agree with #9.
    That was a horrible read.

  • http://www.cracked.com/funny-353-kobe-bryant/ Atom

    My hats off to the Grizz, but feel that Durant will have it working again back in the OKC. Would love to see them pull off the most improbable trip to the conference finals in recent memory though.

    Why is Kate Moss content to chill 25 feet from the rim at 10 a.m.? Is that where her dealer is? I dont get it.

  • Stylez G. Write

    The Thunder are not a knockout blow throwing team.They are an athletic,jump shooting,fast breaking team,which equates to being a boxer with an incredible jab followed by a hit or miss……wild haymaker…..you dodge that,you good lol cool j….

  • JBaller

    I have a friend that’s always trying to spin metaphors but always ends up making no sense by the time he’s done. I’m often left wondering what the hell he meant.

    Dan, is that you writing smack these days?

  • Colton

    nice anchorman reference …. GO GRIZZ!!

  • braindead

    all these movie references seem beyond forced.

  • Kobeeeee

    FUnny. How someone who had one of the worst possessions of all time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4xH85iDDIs get his act together and becomes the new Z-Bo.

  • Phileus

    The Smack connoisseurs have returned!

    Today’s Smack has a nice juicy nose, with subtle scents of oak and tobacco, but its uneven texture and long but dry finish make it less desirable than the fantastic 2010 Smack vintage. Oh, what a truly great vintage that was.

  • egypt

    I think some of you care way too much about these articles… #justsayin #gooutside

  • SWAT

    Lmao @ denise being married now!!

  • K Dizzle

    @ #####egypt######, ######this###### ########ain’t######## ###########twitter###########

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    lol@ phileus, so true, excellent observation