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Grizzlies win despite Randolph's absence

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND - The Memphis Grizzlies were forced to play without leading scorer Zach Randolph on Friday, but center Marc Gasol more than picked up the slack.

Gasol contributed a team-high 22 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks in the Grizzlies' 103-92 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers before an announced crowd of 17,032 at Quicken Loans Arena.

The 7-foot-1 center shot a sizzling 11-of-16 from the field, mostly from the perimeter.

"Everybody that comes into the game produces and contributes," Gasol said. "That's what matters."

The Cavs (21-41) entered the game concerned about the status of star guard Kyrie Irving, who spent part of Thursday night throwing up.

He turned out to be the least of their problems. It was the rest of the team that looked like it was laboring.

"I thought we came out with good focus and our defense was good," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "I thought Ed Davis came out and got every rebound and played really strong and got us off to a good start.

"In the fourth quarter, Mike Conley and (Jerryd) Bayless took over."

The Cavs opened up a 51-48 lead at halftime against the Grizzlies, who have now won 11 of their last 12 games.

Their lead went up in smoke when the Grizzlies scored 10 unanswered points to start the second half and never looked back. Memphis (41-19) outscored the Cavs in the third quarter, 32-18.

"Two words -- third quarter," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "It's that simple. We have to figure out a way to regain our focus (for the second half). Sometimes, we're somewhere else."

Scott said he had no idea how to remedy the problem.

Irving, listed as doubtful for Friday's game, led all scorers with 24 points and three assists. He missed shootaround on Friday, but ended up playing 36 minutes.

"I played, so I'm all right," he said.

The same can't be said about shooting guard Dion Waiters. He had missed the previous two games with an illness. Maybe he should have made it three.

He managed just three points and missed all four of his shots from the field in 20 minutes.

"I was still a little dizzy," he said. "My stomach still hurt. I got tired just sitting at home. I played. I decided to fight through it."

Scott said Waiters' biggest problem was the defense applied by Grizzlies shooting guard Tony Allen.

Bayless came off the bench to score 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter for Memphis.

The Cavs cut a 12-point deficit to just four points, 88-84, with 5:37 remaining in the game on Irving's layup. However, they couldn't get the necessary stops down the stretch.

Conley had a double-double with 17 points, a game-high 11 assists and five steals.

"He catches guys sleeping," Irving said. "He's one of the most underrated point guards in the league. I have the utmost respect for him."

Swingman C.J. Miles came off the bench for 13 points and three steals for the Cavs, while forward Alonzo Gee added 12 points and five rebounds. Gee buried a 68-foot, 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer.

Power forward Tristan Thompson recorded his 22nd double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.

Davis, starting in Randolph's place, was very active on the boards with 12 points and nine rebounds.

"I want to give kudos to those guys (the Cavs)," Hollins said. "They are playing hard and trying to do the right thing. Kyrie Irving is going to be a star - or maybe he is."

Notes: Randolph missed his third consecutive game with a sprained ankle. Davis started at power forward. "We just move on down the line," Hollins said. "(Davis) still has a long way to go. There's a difference playing well on a bad team and playing well for a winning team." ... Former Ohio State center Greg Oden sat right next to the Cavs' bench in the second half. He is entertaining the thought of signing with the Cavs in the offseason. ... Irving was in the starting lineup despite being listed as doubtful. "About 13 hours of sleep will definitely help you," he said. He said he doesn't have the same illness that has caused Waiters, Daniel Gibson and Tyler Zeller to miss some action in the last week. Waiters, who missed the previous two games, was back in the starting lineup at shooting guard on Friday. ... The condition of Irving's right knee caused a commotion on Thursday when Scott threatened to shut him down for a while if the guard's problems continued. Scott spoke at length to Cavs athletic trainer Max Benton about the subject. Irving said he was injured in practice when he landed awkwardly. It caused him to miss three games. "I don't think the knee is that big of an issue, to be honest," Scott said. ... The Grizzlies came into Friday's game ranked No. 1 in points allowed at 89.4 per game. Conversely, the Cavs are ranked 23rd at 101.1. The Grizzlies have two lock-down defenders in forward Tayshaun Prince and shooting guard Allen. "With Tayshaun, they are a different team," Scott said. "This makes them a better defensive team. They don't have a lot of great individual defenders, but they are a great defensive team." ... Cavs center Marreese Speights said he didn't think the Grizzlies gave up on him. "It was all the front office," he said. "It was a money move. I still have love for the team and the fans."
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