Sunblock: Grizzlies beat Heat 97-95

Zach Randolph provided the spark for the Grizzlies, this time from the bench. Randolph and O.J. Mayo were not allowed to start tonight’s game after showing up late for a shootaround early in the day.

“I just thought for the moment it worked out,” coach Lionel Hollins said. “Zach was hungrier and he knew that he had messed up and he came in and did work and in the fourth quarter he was just amazing.”

Randolph had 9 rebounds and 13 points in the fourth quarter as the Grizzlies battled through several of the game’s 12 ties and 20 lead changes to set up Rudy Gay’s game winning basket at the buzzer. The Grizzlies ended a five-game losing streak with the home win.

“It was just a blessing the way things worked out,” Hollins said. “I wouldn’t want them to late again, but I think they got the message that we’re a team, and it wasn’t about them, it was about the guys waiting on them. That’s what team is all about.”

Crowd Pleaser
In a change of pace from the usual crowd makeup for a high-profile visiting team, the crowd for this game was decidedly with the Grizzlies. Heat forward LeBron James was booed incessantly whenever he went to the line, and almost every time he touched the ball.

Grizz center Marc Gasol, who expressed some frustration with having only “half the gym with [the Grizzlies]” after last week’s overtime loss to Boston, erupted into a smile when asked about tonight’s crowd.

“A lot better. A lot better, and you see the difference. It sounds tired to say that the crowd plays the sixth man but they really are, and we use that.”

Bench Stars?
Darrell Arthur and Xavier Henry got the start over Randolph and Mayo as a result of shootaround-gate, (sorry but they’ll take away journalism credentials if anything resembling a scandal is not followed with a –gate suffix) and they were awesome.

Arthur set the tone of the game early, jumping the Grizz out to an early 20-10 lead by scoring 10 points. Xavier Henry continued to shoot the NBA’s longest two-point attempts, but was rock-solid on defense.

Hollins attributed some of Randolph’s fourth quarter performance to Arthur being able to eat up 28 minutes, and Henry played for 26.

O.J. on the upswing?
Mayo continued his recent streak of super-suck, for 45 minutes of the game, until he hit his only shot with 2:52 left to put the Grizzlies up by one after facing a late three-point deficit. The crowd reaction to Mayo making the shot (he had missed his previous six attempts) was comparable to a parent cheering for their terrible kid who FINALLY GOT THAT ONE BASKET IN A GAME!

“It felt like a million pounds off my chest,” Mayo said.

More Zbo
It should be noted that the giveaway was for Zach Randolph headbands, and even a few LeBron jersey wearing fairweathers were sporting the bright orange headgear.

Randolph’s contribution was even stronger than his line, as his offensive rebounding in the third quarter set up put-back after put-back to keep the game close.

“Yeah I didn’t get the start, coach punished us, but we got the win,” he said after the game.

Perimeter woes. Free throw shows.
If fans expected LeBron James to be the Heat’s show stealer tonight, they ended up disappointed. Eddie House did more to keep the Heat in the game than any other player, hitting 6 three-pointers en route to scoring 20 points off the bench.

The Grizzlies meanwhile hit only one three-pointer in the game (out of 11…ugh.) but made up for the difference by dominating the glass and forcing 27 free throw attempts.

It’s what you pay for!
Rudy Gay went from $80M waste of money to TOTALLY FREAKING WORTH IT in about 45 seconds. First, with the Grizz up 95-93, Gay tripped on himself and turned the ball over to allow a James layup to force the tie with 5.3 seconds left.

Then he came out of the timeout and nailed a buzzer-beating jumper to win the game.

Press conference highlight
Geoff Calkins: “That just like you drew it up at the end Lionel?”

Hollins: “Yeah of course.”
Note: That’s a paraphrase. Someone is laughing in my mic and can’t quite make out exactly what he said. But it was like that. Serious.

Dunk of the Game
Rudy Gay on a sick putback the made the building explode. Put the Grizz up two with 4:11 left in the fourth.

Twitter watch
@ricktrotter was the game’s twitter star, somehow finding time to tweet about legal trends in online plastic surgery reviews while doing the PA announcing AND dropping terrific lines like the LeBron-inspired “It’s time to take your talents to Grizz-cam!” and a WWE-inspired “Wait a minute… that sounds like Super Grizz’s music!”

Final Shots
Don’t feel too bad about the Grizzlies’ 1 of 11 shooting night from beyond the arc. The Grizzlies were 2 for 2 on three-pointers after the whistle. Thabeet only played about 6 minutes. Greivis Vasquez enthusiasm is as fun as it is hilarious. When coming in to replace Mike Conley, Vasquez gave Conley a hard point, you know… to clear up any confusion about whom he was replacing. Oh and a big low-five. Plus he has really nice vision on the court. Also LeBron sucked. Sure he scored 29. But expectation is everything, and compared to the expectation, he sucked. He’s also 0-2 in Memphis over the past two seasons.

Follow @memphissport @douggillon @bharris901 @chasingphoto and @cerrito for live Grizzlies tweets during games and check after each game for a full recap from FedExForum.

Written by Doug Gillon. Photo by JD Meredith.

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