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Grizzlies dominate final minutes in Sacramento road win

Zach Randolph set a Grizzlies franchise record for rebounds in a season in Monday night's 102-85 road win over the Sacramento Kings. Randolph's 25 points and 12 boards sent him past Shareef Abdur-Rahim's previous record of 825, set in 1999-2000 while the team was still in Vancouver. Abdur-Rahim was there to see, as an assistant coach with the Kings.

Randolph's post-game comment on setting the record was typically brief: "It means a lot. Plus, we got the win."

This season has been a rejuvenation for Randolph, who came to Memphis last summer in a trade with the Clippers, who no longer needed him after drafting Blake Griffin. Randolph was always a productive scorer and rebounder, but had a reputation as a difficult teammate during years with troubled franchises like Portland (the "Jailblazers" years), the Knicks, and the Clippers.

In Memphis, Randolph has emerged as a team leader, a veteran who helps mentor the younger players, and holds everyone accountable for their effort and performance.

Monday night, trailing by one at halftime (52-51), the Grizzlies edged ahead during the third quarter, as Randolph scored eight of his 25 points. Then, in the fourth, after the Kings tied the game at 80 with 7:21 to play, the Grizzlies (38-33) exploded to finish the game with a 22-5 run and a 17 point victory. O. J. Mayo scored ten straight points during the run.

All five starters scored in double figures for Memphis. O. J. Mayo had 20, Rudy Gay 17, Mike Conley 12 with seven assists, two steals and only one turnover, and Hasheem Thabeet (filling in for Marc Gasol) ten points and seven rebounds.

Thabeet's improvement is noticeable, following a six game stint with the D-League's Dakota Wizards. He's still a long way from being a real threat at center, but he blocks shots (3 Monday night) and alters many more, and is starting to show better awareness on the court.

Playoff status update: the Grizzlies remain in 9th place in the West, four games behind Portland for the final playoff berth, with eleven games to play. Houston is a game back of Memphis, but tied in the loss column. San Antonio and Oklahoma City are tied for sixth at 42-27, six ahead of the Grizz in the loss column. The Grizzlies slim playoff hopes rest on a strong finish against a tough schedule, combined with a meltdown by one of the three teams ahead of them. Not impossible, but certainly not likely.

The Grizzlies are at Golden State Wednesday night.


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