MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol has seen it before, that moment when teammate and power forward Zach Randolph flips a switch and makes the game his own. That’s what happened in the Grizzlies’ 110-96 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night at FedExForum.
“He’s so hard to stop,” Gasol said. “Sometimes no matter what they try to do, it’s just Zach being Zach.”
Cleveland scored 65 first-half points, the most by any Grizzlies’ opponent this season. The Cavaliers were winning the boards, shooting lights out, and Randolph had not really done much to make himself known.
But he scored 13 of his 23 points in the third quarter and grabbed six of his 14 rebounds and made two of his four steals in the quarter as the Grizzlies, at one point, went on a 17-0 run. Although Cleveland would get as close as a point, at 95-94 in the fourth quarter, Memphis would forge ahead again on a 15-2 run to close the game out.
“He decided to establish himself,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. “In the first half, we were the ones who were more physical. We were the ones hitting first. Then in the second half, he come out and said, ‘You know what, I’m going to get the ball whether it’s in a post-up situation or off the glass. I’m going to get it and I’m going to do what I do.'”
Part of what he did was collecting offensive rebounds. Randolph finished with seven of the Grizzlies’ 11. Cleveland had just eight.
“Just trying to be aggressive and go with the flow,” Randolph said.
The early flow was all Cavaliers.
“I feel like there are only a few teams that can stay with us … we have great runners, including myself, (Jarrett) Jack, and Luol (Deng),” said point guard Kyrie Irving, who had a game-high 28 points. “It’s a collective effort when we play the pace.”
“They were killing us on the pick-and-roll,” said Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, who had 16 points off the bench. “Pretty much, they were just out-working us. Once we got in tune with what we were doing, we were able to execute defensively.”
Gasol scored 22 points with eight rebounds and six assists and point guard Mike Conley finished with 22 points and seven assists and two steals. Shooting guard Courtney Lee had 19 points and hit 5-of-8 3-pointers.
“Mike, Marc and Zach, if they’re rolling, and we have two out of the three, we have a good chance,” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. “When we get all three guys cooking, that’s fantastic.”
Irving was instant offense for Cleveland, making moves to the rim or to get space for jumpers that had the crowd buzzing.
“Irving’s got some (stuff), don’t he?” Randolph said, shaking his head.
Forward Tristan Thompson scored 18 points with eight rebounds for the Cavaliers and center Spencer Hawes finished with 13 points and Deng added 11.
Memphis (33-25) maintained at least a two-possession lead throughout the fourth quarter until Irving hit a pull-up jumper at 4:25 to get Cleveland within three, at 95-92. A pair of Irving free throws at 4:03 cut the lead to 95-94.
But the Grizzlies closed the game on a 15-2 run, eight of the points coming from Conley.
Memphis shot 54.3 percent (44-for-81) and the Cavaliers shot 49.4 percent (39-for-79).
The Cavaliers (24-37) led by as many as 15 in the first half behind a 61.4 percent shooting performance (27-for-44) and took a 65-54 lead into the break.
Although Cleveland is 13 games under .500, the Cavaliers are still chasing the eighth and last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We do have a tough stretch coming up,” said forward/center Tyler Zeller, who had nine points, five rebounds and two blocks. “The whole month of March is very tough.”
NOTES: Cleveland PG Kyrie Irving, the 2014 NBA All-Star Game MVP, recorded the first triple-double of his career in Friday’s win over Utah as he scored 21 points, grabbed a career-best 10 rebounds and handed out a career-tying 12 assists. … Since Feb. 8, the Cavs were holding teams to the lowest field-goal percentage in the NBA (41.2) and they were second in points allowed per game (92.5). … Veteran swingman Mike Miller scored a season-high-tying 19 points Friday in the Grizzlies’ loss at Oklahoma City. Miller scored all 19 points in the fourth quarter after not attempting a field goal in the first three periods. Miller also ranked ninth in the league in 3-point field-goal percentage (43.4). … Memphis has gone 8-2 against Eastern Conference opponents, dating back to Jan. 5. One of those two losses came on Feb. 9 at Cleveland, a 91-83 defeat in overtime.
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