Zach Randolph finally returned from injury, but it was all for naught as the Memphis Grizzlies fell to 0-2 on their two-game road trip with a 106-95 defeat delivered by the New Orleans Pelicans. Here are my three takeaways from the loss:
1) Zach Randolph's Return
Memphis won just four of nine games in Randolph's absence with a knee injury, and the Grizzlies didn't fare much better in his return to the lineup against the Pelicans. Randolph struggled with the length of New Orleans' front line of Omer Asik and Anthony Davis, and the Grizzlies were slightly out-rebounded 45-44 as Z-Bo finished with an 11-point, 11-rebound double double. Randolph shot 4-9 from the field in 30 minutes of action.
2) Goodnight, Sweet Prince (and Q-Pon?)
Yahoo Sources: Boston, Memphis and New Orleans working framework of Green to Grizz, Pondexter to Pelicans, Prince/Salmons/pick to Celtics.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) January 10, 2015
The trade winds were swirling all throughout the day, and didn't let up once the Grizzlies and Pelicans tipped off. In the middle of the game Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Quincy Pondexter could be traded to New Orleans as part of a three-team deal also sending Jeff Green to Memphis and Prince to Boston.
If this was indeed the last game in a Grizzlies uniform for Quincy and Tayshaun, it was certainly one to forget.
Pondexter didn't play at all while receiving a DNP-CD, and Prince posted one of his worst performances of the season, scoring six points on 2-7 shooting and grabbing 3 rebounds. Prince was 0-5 from the field before knocking down two 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter.
3) Kosta Steps Up
Before the trade rumors came up today, Kosta Koufos was the Grizzly thought to be most likely to be traded at some point this season due to his expiring contract and the belief that Memphis' chances of resigning him in free agency are minimal. There are arguments that exist for holding onto Koufos instead of trying to flip him for some value before he walks, and the third quarter of tonight's game showed why.
Four minutes into the quarter Gasol picked up his fourth foul, prompting Dave Joerger to sub Koufos into the game. Kosta immediately responded with a three-point play and a hook shot in the lane. Obviously Koufos can't do everything that an All-Star caliber center like Marc can, but the luxury of having a starting quality center come off the bench minimizes the drop-off and can be invaluable come playoff time.
Koufos recorded 9 points and 7 rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench.
NBA Highlight of the Night
Tonight's Grizzlies game was pretty bad, so cheer yourself up by watching this absurd tip-in by Utah's Trevor Booker with 0.2 seconds left on the shot clock. Seriously, it's worth your time.