Z-Bo’s Play Leaves Grizzlies Feeling Empty

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SAN ANTONIO — It was early in the third quarter when Zach Randolph simply did the kind of thing that he does.

Mike Conley had driven into the teeth of the Spurs defense and had his layup attempt pop out. So there was Randolph, all 260 pounds and city-block wide of him of him, rising up out of the crowd in the paint to tap the ball back into the basket. It was notable only because Randolph had taken seven previous shots and not made a single one.

Z-Bo had been Z-B000000.

When itwas  finally over, Randolph had just those two points to his name, which meant that he was outscored by all but two players on the Spurs’ 12-man active roster  — and that’s using the term quite loosely, since Tracy McGrady hasn’t truly been relevant in half a decade. It took Aussie Patty Mills, cuddly as a koala, just 66 seconds off the bench to pop in a 3-pointer and move ahead of Randolph on the day’s scoring list.

All of which goes a long way toward explaining the ugly 105-83 thumping the Grizzlies took from the Spurs and why Randolph chose to enter the post-game locker room and express regrets to his teammates.

“He tried to apologize first off, and we wouldn’t accept that,” said the point guard Conley. “We said, it’s not you, it’s all of us.”

There were so many things wrong with how the Grizzlies came out and played the opener of the first Western Conference finals game in franchise history that Z-Bo might as well have been holding a bucket to catch the water when the dam broke.

Tony Parker merely took the ball almost from the opening tip and drove it anyplace he wanted toward the Memphis basket, finishing at the rim and stabbing in mid-range jumpers. The Spurs’ wing men set up residence in either corner and all they had to do was wait for the ball to find them for open shots. The Spurs finished the day making 14 of their 29 attempts from deep, setting a franchise playoff record for 3-pointers. It was hardly the kind of performance you might have expected from the No. 1-rated defense in the NBA during regular season and more like playing a game of keep-away with a class of kindergartners.

“We didn’t play well,” said Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins. “I mean, it’s not anything specific.”

However, it can specifically be said that Grizzlies will be done if Randolph doesn’t even bother to show up. Z-Bo and his partner Marc Gasol punished the Spurs with their inside game two years ago when the Grizzlies became just the second No. 8 seed in history to knock off a No. 1 seed.

But that was a different Spurs team, one that was not as healthy, not nearly as deep and not as remotely capable of coming at Randolph with the overwhelming force of a tsunami.

“They were disrupting my rhythm,” Randolph said. “It was just one of those nights. I played like I did against the Clippers in L.A.”

These are not the Clippers and their passing acquaintance with defense, an entire operation based on gambling for steals and trying to run for dunks. These are not the shorthanded Thunder, relying on Kevin Durant to run the offense, make every decision, all of the shots and wax the court between games.

The last time these two teams met in the playoffs, Tiago Splitter was a rookie who did not get off the bench for the first three games. In the opener this time, he teamed with Boris Diaw to constantly front Randolph in the post to deny him the ball. In 2011, the Spurs tried to guard Randolph with 6-foot-9, 37-year-old Antonio McDyess. Now they are younger, taller, deeper.

And on the occasions the ball made it into Z-Bo’s hands, he was swarmed by Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Parker — anybody who was within reach to slap and poke at the ball. The Spurs figured that if Randolph was going to use his physicality to try to beat them up with his work on the inside, they were going to try to beat him to the punch by keeping a defender or three on him and delivering the first body blows.

It wasn’t only a case of Randolph missing shots. It was the failure of the Grizzlies to get him the ball to take enough shots, certainly more than eight.

“They’re were able to get into a denial position so early in the clock to where it was tough to get him the ball,” Conley said. “And when we did get him the ball, they were trapping and weren’t allowing him to shoot the ball. They were making other guys make shots and take shots.

“They are not the first team to front him. But they seem to do a very good job of it to the point where you saw the front, we swing it to the high post and normally we get a high-low and get Zach alone. But it seemed that everybody was in the right position at the right time. They did a really good job of scouting that. So now we got to find ways around it.”

Because grit and grind only works if you have your grinder.

In an age when offenses are surging with rule changes and the prevalence of the 3-ball, it is one thing to limit opponents to 89 points a game as the Grizzlies did during the regular season and have a measure of success. But this isn’t the 1990s with the Rockets and Knicks mired in a death struggle every time down the court. You’ve got to be able to put points on the board and when your top playoff scorer at 19.7 a game comes up nearly 18 short of his average the task is overwhelming.

“Look,” said the Grizzlies Tony Allen, “we all know we’re a different team with our big man going.”

No apologies needed.  Just Z-Bo over Z-B0000000.

74 Comments

  1. L Sizzle says:

    Grizzlies are here and deserve to be WCF… They took that same OKC team to seven with RW and Harden a couple of years ago so I don’t wanna hear about an injured OKC team that should have been swept…. Grizzlies will bounce back they lost every game 1 this playoffs and are undefeated at home … The Spurs are good but not that superior . Expect the remaining games of the series to be very close with the Grizzlies getting game 2 in SA…

    • OKCKD35 says:

      you mean that OKC team where they were in their 2nd playoffs which would have been RW 2nd year, JH 1st year, Ibaka 1st Year, what happened 2 years ago against a different squad of players has no bearing on this year. the fact is every game was a 1 possession game with less than 1 minute. With RW in the lineup OKC would have much better execution and scoring throughout the entire game. oh and MEM lost game 2 haha.

  2. dylan19 says:

    Randolph still a force for Grizzlies and still a threaten one. Hope Spurs can make it to final. But man Randolph + Gasol in the middle…wow still a threaten….

  3. sanjay says:

    Ha Ha,
    Randolph looks like a deer caught in the headlight rather than the bear scaring the hell out of everybody on the road!!!
    he does not sound confident at all at the top there!

  4. sanjay says:

    barring first round and some entertaining games by golden state, the west games have been boring to hell! On the east coast it has been a tad better but nothing really exciting other than seeing will miami win or not!

  5. SAS Optimist says:

    Lol who said this is Tim Duncans last attempt to win!? They have a very young and hungry team now. Kawahi Leonard is the 3rd wheel for the Spurs. Not Ginobili. Ginobili has no role. He is just Ginobili. He dominates and go to thr bench to chill. And I dont know why people keep overlooking the Pacers like they didnt get better from last year. Didnt the grizzlies get better without Gay? So why dont you thibk the Pacers arent better right now without Granger? They did beat the Heat 2 out of 3 tines this year

  6. rukidnsports says:

    It’s a much different story when you compare the stats for the 5 matchups between Spurs/Grizz instead of Grizz seasons averages. Instead of league leading 89 points per game, the Spurs have scored just under 100. Spurs are + 14 on the boards

  7. Andrejs says:

    This has been Z-Bo’s worst game in a year. He played a total of 28 minutes and only had 2 points and 7 rebounds. This series will be close but, in the end I believe the Spurs will take the Western Conference Finals in 6 games. If the Grizzlies stand a chance against this experienced Randolph has to score at least 15 points a game, not 2.

  8. JPD for life says:

    Spurs in 5, enough said.

  9. no name says:

    it’s really hard for me to choose on which team i gotta cheer for. i love the spurs’ attitude so mature and so polite and yet so physical. i also like the grizz because of them being quiet and showing us an underdog-like character but then they aint soft, they can get real physical too with their great D. but in game 1 i realized the spurs are way better in offense and very efficient with their defense too. if the spurs are going to maintain the level of energy and intensity, grizz might get swept.

  10. patrick says:

    the spurs an grizzlies will be a good match up against the heat. but i think that the grizzlies will win the series in 7 games. the will face the miamii heat in the nba finals. they will go all 7, but im going with the grizzlies way the and yess in not a fan of the grizzlies but they can do it this year.

  11. michael says:

    No one wants Memphis in the finals. But im from Memphis and all I have to say is BELIEVE MEMPHIS.

    • Okckd35 says:

      All I have to say is Believe Memphis will return to dirty play as they normally do when they are trailing, watch out for holds from Allen and Gasol with z-Bo screaming every time he touches the ball

  12. blueray2013 says:

    I was not surprised that San Antonio won over Memphis in game 1. Spurs is always a good teamwork. Manu Ginobili is always the brain of the team. Before game 1 I predicted San Antonio in 7. Now I changed my mind San Antonio in 6. Teamwork, Teamwork and Teamwork forever. That is why I like San Anotnio for many years.
    Here is what I was surprised: For the last 8, 9 years, Manu Ginobili and Toni Parker are very good players. But they never got MVP. Because they are not Americans. NMA is always favor for American players. That is not fair ! The is so true.

  13. iivviiccaa79 says:

    it is not that strange, Grizz lost each of their first games vs Clips and OKC, they just need to adjust their game..

    but truth be said, Spurs schooled them yesterday, both defensively (when they couldn’t get the ball down to Z-Bo and Gasol they looked confused until Conley started penetrating in the second quarter, but he is not that efficient down low) and offensively (Spurs had so many open shots that I kind of felt sad for Grizz’s D)…

    it is going to be better!

  14. Jonh says:

    Marc Gasol >>>>>>>>>>>>> Z-Bo

  15. W/E says:

    Grizzlies fans think their team can do the same on Spurs like they did on OKC and CLippers, Spurs are a very good team and they got the best coach in the league,i really do believe that the Spurs are going for their 5th title, its Duncans last chance for it and the team is rolling this year they can do it.

  16. vaantoote says:

    Whoever beats OKC in a seven game series wins the championship.

    2010 Lakers beat Thunder = Lakers won championship
    2011 Mavericks beat Thunder = Mavericks won championship
    2012 Heat beat Thunder = Heat won championship
    2013 Grizzlies beat Thunder = Grizzlies 2013 NBA Champs!!!!

  17. Scott Cason says:

    so Randolph only scores 2 points and having him on his game will make a huge difference?…. well, it will make a difference, but that’s where the difference lies…. Duncan only rolled in 6 points while Splitter, and Ginobli also had off nights compared to their norms, but with the Spurs, it’s about team play, production from the bench, and great coaching. I give the Spurs one cold game and then they take this series in 5, Memphis doesn’t have the offensive weapons to hang with the Spurs like the Warriors did

  18. spurs and Heat in Finals ok!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. GSG says:

    The grizz, once again cant upset the spurs as they are now. with each spur healthy and stepping up there’ll be no grit n grind by z-bo and co. Likewise, the heat might get upset by the spurs in the finals that is, if they get past the pacers with no injuries.

  20. sanjay says:

    this is one of the most boring series to watch! the spurs are having a free ride with the injured west teams! Memphis does not have the wherewithal to challenge spurs it seems. They are a paint team and a slow team and easy to figure out! There was a shooting spree beyond the arc from spurs for which memphis had no answer. And I virtually fell asleep watching this one sided contest!
    looks like spurs are gonna go up 2-0 and memphis would be lucky to steal one at their home court!

    • Jharter says:

      You do realize the Spurs were limping into the playoffs with injuries, right? The Lakers were healthy, and they straight up out played the Warriors. Currys ankle injury was no worse than Parker’s calf injury. The Spurs haven’t walked through anything this year. They’re a great team with a great system. People just don’t watch enough to understand its true beauty.

    • Okckd35 says:

      Memphis had more of an advantage with Blake Griffin being injured in round 1 ( still played but limited) and Russell Westbrook being injured in round 2.

  21. basketballfever_fromTurkey says:

    Z-Bo played very bad but it was more of Spurs’ pre-cautions and excellent team defense on him rather than Z-Bo’s having an off night. I can’t blame Z-bo for the defeat, The Spurs played a perfect basketball match, they outplayed the Memphis Grizzlies everywhere, it was not about minor things that made the difference on Sunday night like Z-Bo’s having an off night, no. By the way Z-Bo is not a top 5 or top 10 player. So, why would anyone expect him to dominate each game and series ? He is a very skillful superstar type-player but like every super-star other than top 5 players, he has weaknesses that can be exposed and he is stoppable when necessary preparations are applied on his play.
    M.Gasol was not also comfortable last night, it was what the Spurs made other than those bigs playing badly.
    Grizzlies should get back to defending tight, make stops and run, find early offense whenever they can. On half court sets, the Spurs would outplay them rest of the series although blowing game 1 doesn’t mean a sweep or an easy series for the Spurs, it will be tough series nonetheless.
    My prediction is : The San Antonio Spurs in 6 games or 7 games. ( More depth, more experience, more versatility and more hunger because of last season’s upset )

    • Marco29 says:

      Agreed. Z Bo’s 2 point night was part of the Spurs’ plan and it was perfectly executed. Yet, the series is far from being over. An 18 point victory does not count more than a 1 point victory. I guess Z Bo and Memphis will bounce back. If they win Game 2 and come home (where they are tough to beat) at 1-1, this first blowout defeat won’t mean much.
      Yet, I think Spurs are a little to much to handle and too well coached for the Grizzlies. I still think SAS will win in 6.

  22. Hoopzaah says:

    Aw man, i get really sad with this no-Spurs propaganda… Is it like you don’t sell papers if you say good things about them? They play pro ball. Plus, no way the Grizzlies win you know why? Remember 2011 Mavs final against the Heat? They didn’t forget. Neither the Spurs forgot that sweep.
    But i hope it gets tougher though, and it will. Mr. Hollins will play different, faster ball. Gasol and Z-Bo will get summer ready in this series :-D

  23. […] that …Bold Predictions for 2013 NBA Playoffs Eastern and Western Conference FinalsBleacher ReportZ-B0000000 Leaves Grizzlies Feeling EmptyNBA.com (blog)NBA Playoffs, Grizzlies vs. Spurs: Split season series previews Western …SB […]

  24. grizzley says:

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  25. Ray says:

    IT’S ONLY GAME 1! That’s exactly what Popovich will be thinking as well.

  26. J says:

    z-b00000000 i dont get it

    great d all night on z-bo

  27. cruzero says:

    this is just one game, and mind you it is in SPURS’ home, the grizzlies needs to win 1 in SA to take home court advantage. wake up guys.

  28. heat fan says:

    for real yes the grizzlies are a good team but dont overestimate them and you all people underestimate the spurs they have a great couch and their big 3 as well even they are old but they have way experience in finals games.

  29. Hell says:

    I don”t know how they allow him to make so many fouls constantly throughout the playoffs and don”t call it. With the clippers, grizzlies got 50 free throws, same with okc. Not gonna happen with spurs. He is a thug, good overall player, but a thug.

    • Okckd35 says:

      Agreed, z-Bo creates more contact by throwing his body into defenders to get to his spots down low, yet they always whistle the defender. One of the games against OKC Perkins, Ibaka, and Collison were all in foul trouble at half time, and the 1st foul against z-Bo was with 4 mins left in the 3rd. Pretty sure it was the same game KD got 3 FT attempts despite being mugged the entire game

  30. Grizzly Bears says:

    The Grizzlies’ lack of offensive pressure will be compensated by their heavy defense. But that was not much of a factor as seen in Game 1 vs. the Spurs. The Spurs have the ability to spread the floor like the Miami Heat and can play defensively using any bench players. Kudos to Mr. Popovich. But I still believe that Memphis can beat the Spurs if Marc Gasol and Z-Bo take control of the paint.

    • OKCKD35 says:

      the refs will not allow Memphis to play “defense” on the aging Duncan like they allowed them to do against KD. The NBA protetcs its relics lol

      • TRU*NBAFAN says:

        That relic made the nba.com headline as FUNDAMENTAL in OVERTIME (for the win, thank you!!) :)

      • OKCKD35 says:

        hey I got nothing but love for Timmy, one of the greats of all time, just making a play on his age :) he held it down for sure.

  31. The most interesting man in basketball says:

    lol people are already taking as if this series is over. It’s a bad day indeed for the Grizzlies but I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ll bounced around quite nicely.

    • coolitdude says:

      yea as they did so previously, as underdogs… nothing to lose, Grizziles in 6.

    • SaTexMex says:

      I predict Z-bo scores more than 2 points in game 2. The Griz ain’t gonna lay down and die. I Still like the Spurs to win (but I always do) but I have tix to game 7 in this series. I won’t be surprised to use them. In the 2011 series, Memphis snuck up on us in game 1 and we never could get of the mat. They are not sneeking up on us this time. They’re a solid defensive team (sorry if that’s boring, but its good basketball) and will play better in game 2. Spurs have some more weapons this time around. Look for hard playoff fouls for any Spurs going into the paint in game 2.

  32. GSG says:

    @david

    are you so sure about spurs getting swept by the heat? don’t you think it’s the other way around?

  33. latigo rapper says:

    Perfect opening result for this NEW ORIGINAL SPURS RAP MUSIC VIDEO IN YOUTUBE entitled “GO SPURS GO (San Antonio Spurs Fan Made Rap Song) “. I can feel the HEAT in the finals already!!! haha But we shouldn’t be overconfident because Memphis is a very resilient team. We should not just knock them down…WE SHOULD KNOCK THEM OUT! GO SPURS! IT’S PAYBACK TIME!

  34. Meetch says:

    This is where memphis will miss rudy gay the most

  35. david says:

    ok just because of the past series against okc thunder he dominated everyone expects him to dominate again the problem is IT IS A DIFFERENT TEAM! i seen this coming, i knew that tim duncan is not stupid enough not to figure out away to shut him down. to be honest i seen this coming…and since memphis is basiclly all low post offense they will not get past spurs. am even considering a sweepp unless marc gasol takes over but they still wont win it and thats a shame becuase that would be an awsome finals with the heat as opposed to spurs who are gonna get swept by the heat! ( MY OPINIONNNN )

    • Game Time says:

      I was saying the same thing. Memphis beat out OKC because of having a stronger interior offense and defense. Now they face a team with much better all around defense and offense. Unless Gasol or someone else is putting 25+ up a night they really have no chance.

  36. Another NBA fan says:

    @MJfromOKC I think the Grizz will lose, but you said they barely beat an injured team? They beat OKC 4-1, I don’t think that quailfies as “barely”.

  37. nba fan says:

    spurs will win in 6

    • coolitdude says:

      come on, memphis are used to losing the opening game.. you know what is coming…..

      • Game Time says:

        Spurs are not like OKC and Clippers. Grizzlies have no scoring threat, and also have to find a way to stop Parker, Duncan, Manu and Leonard.

  38. Willy says:

    ZBo, don’t write articles about him please! He is like a pitbull on a chain and we don’t want that chain to break. I think he is far from finished, but well done Spurs got to give them credit, coach Pop is not the coach of the year? I like his quick time outs and the use of the bench this year as compared to last. Go Spurs!

  39. MJfromOKC says:

    Personally I feel the Grizzlies have no place where they are and got there by just barely beating an injured team. They will now play a healthy title contender and probably get swept.

    • Johnny says:

      Wow, OKC fan sour grapes much? Normally OKC fans are a good bunch, you are probably bandwagon on OKC after your fakers failed.

      • dhk says:

        “barely beating”???? it was a 4-1 series. That is not barely. And it was only Westbrooke, not the team, that was injured. Hope he is healthy again soon.

      • nba fan says:

        honestly, he is right. If only Ibaka could knock down the open jumpers he got I think that OKC would be facing Spurs now, not Memphis. They played against a team with just one reliable scorer and still, all the games were very close.

    • SaTexMex says:

      Don’t get sour grape stains on you matching T-shirt. Memphis IS a title contender.

      • Okckd35 says:

        Except the refs won’t let tony Allen hold LBJ the way they let him mug KD. It was bad enough the announcers were pointing it out. After this last round I lost all respect for the Grizzlies (see Gasol holding KD on screens so he could not contest shots, Allen being allowed to run over our screener (fisher) while holding KD on the same play (no call) Allen trying to distract fisher by waving his towel from the out of bounds line, etc….) just dirty play after dirty play. Refs won’t let u do that to Parker and Duncan, have to figure out a different way to win

      • OKCKD35 says:

        Tony Allen flop proving my post before the game! haha what a dirty player

  40. Big Al says:

    Z-Bo really needs to step up big time. Scoring only two points in today’s blowout loss, it’s an awful start for him and his team. The Spurs just continued with their successful style during Games 5 and 6 against the Warriors. They had too many open shots, especially at the three-point line. Poor defense allowed even third stringers to score. They should never leave guys like Green and Bonner unguarded, perhaps Manu, Gary and Leonard as well. The Grizzlies themselves aren’t great from beyond the arc, so the least they can do is prevent their opponents from shooting too many treys.

  41. theholyspecatator says:

    z-boo more like z-flopped this game…i expect them to be much prepared for game 2..still extra boring series..forgot they even played today

  42. The Grizzles should be in the finals w/the Heat