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Gregg Popovich on Grizzlies starting Zach Randolph: ‘We’ve played against Zach 14 hundred and 73 times’

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — (AP) Zach Randolph, the self-described blue collar forward in a blue collar town, always gives the Grizzlies whatever they need.

No complaints. Just check in when called upon and scrap for rebounds and buckets.

Even when relegated to coming off the bench after being a starter throughout his long career, Randolph never griped about playing fewer minutes.

Randolph is answering the bell again for his Grizzlies, as only he can.

“We needed Z Bo in the starting lineup for this series” against San Antonio, first-year Memphis coach David Fizdale said Friday. “This series called for that, so that’s why I moved that direction. If it was a team that was running circles around us from the 3-point line and a whole lot of speed and space, he probably wouldn’t be in the lineup right now.”

Yes, these Grizzlies needed some of that old Grit `n’ Grind. The physical, pounding style of play that helped them reach the playoffs the last six seasons.

With the Spurs shoving the Grizzlies all over the court in the first two games of their opening playoff series, Fizdale had to make a move. He put Randolph back in the starting lineup to give the Grizzlies some needed muscle to push back.

Randolph responded with 21 points and eight rebounds, and the Grizzlies will need much more of the same from the 15-year veteran to keep the Spurs from “bullying” their way through the rest of this best-of-seven series.

To the 6-foot-9 and 260-pound Randolph, all that matters is that he is at his best banging under the basket, pushing and leaning against opponents while somehow finding the right angle to toss up a short jumper or grab a loose ball.

“I’m going to go out there and just play hard and leave it all on the court,” Randolph said. “So playing more minutes is what I’ve been wanting to do, and I’m getting a chance.”

Even while coming off the bench , Randolph still led all reserves with 19 double-doubles during the season.

Randolph reminded everyone Thursday night that he hasn’t lost his touch. He put on a show helping Memphis snap a 10-game postseason skid against the Spurs with a 105-94 victory and pull within 2-1. Randolph knocked down step-back jumpers, hook shots and even threw in a rare dunk while grabbing eight rebounds.

“We’ve played against Zach 14 hundred and 73 times,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, adding that Randolph has always been a heck of a player so “it’s not a whole lot different.”

LaMarcus Aldridge battled against Randolph in the 2015 playoffs while with Portland and knows exactly what to expect with the man nicknamed Z Bo back in the starting lineup.

“You got to battle,” Aldridge said. “It’s a fight down there. You got to battle, and you’re going to try to do your work early and just battle him the whole game.”

Grizzlies guard Mike Conley said it was fun with Randolph having so much success.

“We finally unleashed him,” Conley said. “He really changed the game and hopefully changed the series and will give us some confidence.”

Randolph is a free agent this summer, so Saturday night’s Game 4 could be the last in Memphis for the man loved for both his play on the court and charity work away from the arena. Randolph said that has crossed his mind, especially now with the regular season over and the postseason just two losses away right now.

“You try to put that behind you and when it’s time for that, you take care of that,” Randolph said. “First task at hand is trying to win a championship.”

 

James Dolan’s MSG threatens to sue Steve Ballmer’s Los Angeles Clippers

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This story requires a little background.

The Forum in Inglewood was best known for decades as being both fabulous and the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, back from the Jerry West era and through Magic’s “Showtime” teams. Then in 2001 the Lakers moved downtown to Staples Center, and after that the Forum went through some rough times. It was a number of things, including a mega church for a while, but mostly it was empty. Then several years ago the Madison Square Garden company (owned by Knicks owner James Dolan) bought the Forum, fixed it up, and started booking it again. Now the Forum is one of the hot major concert/event spaces in Los Angeles again, and it’s about to get a boost because it’s adjacent to where Stan Kroenke is building the new Los Angeles Rams stadium. Hello gentrification!

Now enter Steve Ballmer. The Clippers’ owner wants out of Staples Center and the Lakers’ shadow, so he has proposed to build his new arena in Inglewood in another space adjacent to the Rams stadium — land that MSG used to lease. As you might imagine, Dolan’s MSG is not thrilled — they are already battling with Staples to fill their space, now a state-of-the-art arena is moving in down the street.

In a proxy Knicks/Clippers battle, MSG may sue to Clippers and Inglewood in an attempt to block the new building. Here is what Dolan’s attorney in the case, Marvin Putnam, told the Daily Breeze in Los Angeles.

“The mayor made it extremely clear that he needed that piece of land back for a kind of ‘Silicon Beach,’ ” said Marvin Putnam, a partner with the law firm Latham & Watkins, which filed the damage claim that serves as a precursor to a lawsuit. “They’re attempting to flat-out trick people.”

(Inglewood Mayor James) Butts declined to comment, and there is no proof that he made those statements. But when Madison Square Garden Co. relinquished the parking lease to the city, its approved contract states that the land would not be used for anything that would hurt the Forum’s business, according to documents.

Right now the Clippers and Inglewood are in an exclusive negotiating agreement to come to terms on the sale and plans for the property. Putnam told the paper — and the Inglewood City Council — that if the deal goes forward they will sue to block it.

It’s impossible to say how this will turn out, although as a former government reporter I will say these cases tend to be decided in favor of the side about to spend a ton of money on a new building.

 

Jaylen Brown’s #drivebydunkchallenge video is awesome

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I love the drive by dunk challenge (if you prefer, the #drivebydunkchallenge), it would be the best thing on NBA Twitter this summer, if it wasn’t for Kyrie Irving.

But the best one yet comes from Boston’s Jaylen Brown.

He steals the ball, and the best part is the guy who comes over like he’s going to stop Brown from throwing it down.

Nets’ Jeremy Lin: ‘We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says’

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The Nets went 20-62 then traded their best player (Brook Lopez) for a worse player (D'Angelo Russell). Brooklyn’s biggest free-agent signing this summer (Otto Porter) plays for the Wizards. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert are nice developmental pieces but hardly seem on the verge of breakthroughs.

Still, Nets guard Jeremy Lin expects big things next season.

He set expectations in an Instagram Live video (hat tip: AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today):

We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says.

The Nets are on the right track given their asset constraints. Though worse than Lopez now, Russell – eight years younger and on a low-paying rookie-scale deal – is more valuable. Brooklyn made the favorable swap by absorbing Timofey Mozgov‘s awful contract, a wise use of assets considering the difficulty of attracting free agents. An aggressive offer sheet for Porter was a reasonable swing in that situation, as well.

But that’s all helpful in the long run. In the short term, the Nets are almost certainly stuck as lousy. Maybe they can sneak into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but even that is a huge longshot.

Not that Lin cares what I say.

Check out Top 10 blocks from Summer League (VIDEO)

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When you think of Summer League basketball, sharp defensive rotations is not the first thing that comes to mind. Defense, in general, tends to be an after thought.

But there were some great blocks.

Here are the top 10 blocks from the Las Vegas Summer League. Enjoy the flashes of defense from Vegas.