Fizdale: Grizzlies will play Gasol, Randolph together if they can guard 3-point line

The Memphis Grizzlies look different this season. New coach David Fizdale has emphasized spacing, moving Zach Randolph to the bench and encouraging Marc Gasol to shoot 3-pointers so Mike Conley has more room to make plays. They rank 11th in the NBA when it comes to launching 3s on a per-possession basis, per NBA.com, and none of their 12 most-played lineups feature Gasol and Randolph -- the bruising duo that has defined the Grizzlies in opposition to the league's trend toward smallball for years -- on the court at the same time.

When Memphis scratched and clawed its way to a come-from-behind victory over the Golden State Warriors on Friday, though, both Gasol and Randolph were on the court. The two of them hurt the Warriors on the inside and used their physicality to their advantage. Naturally, they'd like to play more together, but Fizdale will only do it if they prove they can guard the perimeter.

From ESPN's Tim MacMahon:

Zach Randolph hopes the Grizzlies will go with the duo of Marc Gasol and him more often. "I think teams are happy with the way we're playing, taking pressure off of them honestly," Randolph told ESPN. "Some guys told me on that other teams: 'Shoot, we're happy y'all guys aren't playing together anymore. It gives us a break.' ... It's already been proven. We've done proved enough and showed it. I think that's not the question. It's just coach wanting to play different and do a different style."

Coach David Fizdale, who stuck with the duo down the stretch and in overtime of Memphis' comeback win Friday over the Warriors, points to perimeter defense as the primary concern with the old-school lineup. [...] "I'll make a deal with them," Fizdale said. "I will say, 'Hey, if you guys show me you can defend the 3-point line when you are out there together, then I will play you together more."

Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph
Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are still grinding for the Grizzlies. USATSI

The Grizzlies love nothing more than seeing Randolph bullying people on the inside, but there's no good in trading 2s for 3s. He's 35 years old, and it's unfair to expect him to be able to close out on 3-point shooters and defend much more athletic combo forwards. That's part of why Fizdale made him a reserve, in addition to giving Memphis some firepower on the second unit.

Fizdale's deal with the two bigs is totally fair. It's not as if they aren't playing together -- they've shared the court in 28 games for a total of 278 minutes, and in that time the Grizzlies have scored 107.2 points per 100 possessions and given up 108.3 points per 100 possessions. Last season, under coach Dave Joerger, they played 958 minutes together and scored 102 points per 100 possessions while allowing 104.8 points per 100 possessions. Since the evidence suggests Memphis is worse defensively with both of them out there, they'll have to reverse this trend before Fizdale has a reason to change his rotation.

CBS Sports Writer

James Herbert is somewhat fond of basketball, feature writing and understatements. A former season-ticket holder for the expansion Toronto Raptors, Herbert does not think the NBA was better back in the... Full Bio

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