Zach Randolph posted 28 points and 11 rebounds and took over the game down the stretch as the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, 89-86, in a back-and-forth affair at Staples Center on Friday night.
Randolph had his way with the Lakers in the fourth quarter, posting up the likes of Shawne Williams, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill for buckets. No matter who Los Angeles defended Z-Bo with, he still found a way to score, including a huge flip shot that put the Grizzles up three with 16 seconds remaining.
Jodie Meeks put forth a valiant effort for LA, recording 25 points and nailing five threes. Pau Gasol registered a double-double, but he shot poorly once again, hitting on only four of his 12 shots.
Both teams shot 44 percent in this contest. The difference was at the free-throw line. Memphis went 14-of-14. The Lakers went 6-of-11.
Let's break down the result of this game.
Zach Randolph Is an Animal
You would be hard-pressed to find a better low-post player in the league than Randolph. As Charles Barkley says, Z-Bo has an "old man's game." He isn't athletic and can hardly jump off the ground, but he uses his strength, footwork and deceptive quickness to punish defenses in the paint.
He absolutely abused whomever defended him on Friday night, even making numerous very well-contested shots.
Randolph was drawing so much attention that, late in the fourth quarter, Marc Gasol slipped through the paint unguarded when Z-Bo was in possession of the ball. Randolph saw Gasol instantly and fed him for an easy two that ended up being a big bucket.
Randolph shot 11-of-18 from the floor in this one, and he even sealed the game with a couple of free throws late. He went 6-of-6 from the charity stripe.
Pau Gasol Is Still Struggling
Pau just cannot seem to break out of his shooting slump.
He was once again miserable against Memphis, never asserting himself in the paint and settling for tough, contested fallaways instead of trying to go to work and utilize his arsenal of post moves.
Yes, he was being defended by his brother, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, but this has been an ongoing problem for older brother Pau all season. He just can't seem to put together a good all-around game, and that has to be the biggest concern for the Lakers right now.
Kobe Bryant's return will help Pau, but it won't be a cure-all to his ills. Obviously, the foot strain is really having an effect.
Free Throws, Free Throws, Free Throws
On paper, the Lakers look like they'd be a good free-throw shooting team. Gasol has always been fairly reliable from the line, and guys like Meeks and Nick Young are good enough shooters to also be dependable.
Well, that hasn't been the case lately, and Friday night was yet another display of futility at the charity stripe for LA.
The Lakers shot 6-of-11 as a team, although one was an intentional miss by Young. Still, Young missed a couple of other free throws earlier, and Meeks failed to convert an and-1 opportunity.
Missed foul shots came back to bite Los Angeles in its loss to Denver the other night, and it did so again against the Grizzlies.
This isn't even a problem that you need to waste time extensively working on. Your professional basketball players. Just make your free throws.