Zach Randolph set to return to Grizzlies lineup Friday night

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Zach Randolph has missed the last 9 games for the Grizzlies due to right knee issues and they have gone 4-5 without him.

Needless to say, Memphis is pretty happy to have him back in the lineup Friday night against New Orleans. Randolph practiced Thursday then went through shootaround on Sunday and is good to go, tweets Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal.

Memphis is 13.4 points per 100 possessions better when Z-Bo is on the court and occupying his spot on the left block. While certainly most of that improvement is on the offensive end (8.8 per 100) — and that’s understandable, there are not many better scorers from the block than Randolph — he did also help their defense.

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Which is what the Grizzles really need — in their last 10 games they are allowing 106.7 points per 100 possessions, which is 4.7 more points than their season average and ranks as 25th in the NBA. What’s worse, as the fantastic John Schuhmann noted at NBA.com, at the end of November the Grizzlies were fourth in the league allowing just 97.8 points per 100.

Injuries have set the Grizzlies back, both to Randolph but also Tony Allen. Memphis is looking around on the trade market for an upgrade for Tayshaun Prince as well (although Jeff Green is not the guy you bring in as a defensive stopper). It’s a little bit of a lot of things, but the Grizzlies need to get back on their defense track to hold their ground in an unforgiving Western Conference.