It sounds like a Hollywood movie pitch: Former Los Angeles star Zach Randolph returns home to seek vengeance against his former team.
The Memphis power forward hasn’t been himself in the Grizzlies’ two losses to the Los Angeles Clippers this season, but expect him to haunt his former team Wednesday in Southern California.
Memphis comes to Los Angeles seeking its 14th win in 15 games, but the Clippers are 25-7 at home and are coming off a dominant 129-97 win over the Pistons.
While the Grizzlies won four in a row without Randolph as he sat out with an ankle injury sustained March 1 against the Miami Heat, they need him at his best against the Clippers.
In a 101-92 loss to Los Angeles on Oct. 31, Randolph shot just 5 of 15 from the field, scoring 15 points. The Clippers again topped the Grizzlies by a score of 99-73 on Jan. 14. Once again, Randolph struggled against his former team, only hitting 5 of 16 from the field.
But the Memphis forward looked sharp in his return from his ankle injury on Tuesday against Portland. He shot 8 of 13 from the field and tallied a double-double, scoring 19 points and grabbing 10 boards as the Grizzlies cruised to a 102-97 win over the Trail Blazers.
Randolph’s rebounding prowess will be particularly important against the Clippers. Los Angeles doesn’t rebound well, grabbing 41.5 boards per game as a team, good for 18th in the NBA.
Meanwhile, Randolph has among the stickiest mitts in the game. The Grizzlies forward ranks third in the league, nabbing 11.6 rebounds per game.
Randolph is also a crucial cog in the Grizzlies defense, whose performance will go a long way in determining the victor of Tuesday’s contest.
While Memphis ranks just 26th in the league in scoring, averaging a measly 93.8 points per game, the team leads the league in scoring defense. Opposing teams score a paltry 89.5 points per game against the Grizzlies.
But the Clippers present a serious challenge, featuring a high-flying offense led by point guard Chris Paul and forward Blake Griffin. Los Angeles ranks eighth in the NBA in scoring, averaging 101.1 points per game.
If Randolph can lead the Grizzlies defense in overpowering the Clippers and score a few points of his own along the way, Memphis should escape Southern California with their first win over Los Angeles this season.
All statistics via ESPN.