It was barely noticed at the time or in the day following – no YouTube clips sprung up immediately thereafter, radio hosts and mid-day bloggers weren’t questioning whether or not a suspension would be levied by the NBA – but Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph did appear to punch rookie Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams in the fourth quarter of OKC’s win over the Grizzlies on Thursday night. That combined punch and shove has earned the Grizzlies scoring big man a suspension for Saturday’s Game 7 pairing against the Thunder, a move that could cost Memphis a chance at making the second round of the playoffs for the third time in four seasons.
For those who missed it, and there were many of us, here it is:
Adams is a known pest, he’s gotten into several altercations during his rookie season, and he clearly bugged the at-times rambunctious Randolph by running up the floor far too closely to the former All-Star, which set Z-Bo off.
Still, this was already a blowout loss for the Grizzlies when Zach made his move, and the NBA’s rules clearly state that if a punch is thrown, at minimum a one-game suspension will result. The league has decided that Zach did throw a punch with that closed fist, and one can’t blame them for their summation. Even if it may cost the league thousands of sets of eyeballs watching what should have been a fantastic Game 7 on Saturday evening.
Memphis has enough to down the favored Thunder, even on Oklahoma City’s home court, in Game 7. Removing Randolph, who has averaged a team-leading 18.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in the series, will make things terribly difficult for a Grizzlies team that has proven to be Oklahoma City’s equal this season.
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