Originally posted on Fox Sports Tennessee  |  Last updated 3/21/12
Grizzlies' coach Lionel Hollins probably won't get many votes for the NBA's coach of the Year, but he should for what he's done since the All-Star break a year ago. Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay hurt his shoulder more than a year ago against Philadelphia on Feb. 15, 2011 (the last game before the All-Star break) and underwent surgery. He missed the season's last 38 games, including 13 in the playoffs. Then, point guard Mike Conley sprained his ankle seconds into this season's home opener versus Oklahoma City. By the time Conley got back on the floor in game five after missing two games, All-Star power forward Zach Randolph tore medial collateral knee ligaments in this strike-shortened season's fourth game at Chicago, forcing him to miss 37 games while it healed without surgery. Add together the GayConleyRandolph's absences and the Grizzlies haven't had that trio on the floor simultaneously for 77 of the last 79 games until last Friday. Yet somehow, thanks to timely trades, free agent acquisitions and Hollins' masterful juggling act, the Grizzlies were 46-31 in that stretch. But now that the gang is finally all here, there's the new challenge of maintaining and enhancing the chemistry the Grizzlies established during Randolph's absence. "The five of us -- me, Rudy, Zach, Marc (Gasol) and Tony (Allen) haven't played much together -- so it will be interesting," said Conley of the Grizzlies' projected starting five that has started a combined eight games the last two seasons producing a record of 3-5. "Guys have to get comfortable knowing when to shoot, when to pass, where guys like the ball. We've got to find that rhythm." "The fact that Zach has been practicing the last few weeks will help us expedite getting acclimated with each other." After coming off the bench for two games, Randolph was back in the starting lineup in Tuesday's 119-110 loss at Sacramento. He finished with 13 points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes. NOTES, QUOTES -Veteran free agent guard Gilbert Arenas, 30, worked out for the Grizzlies on Monday and signed a one-year contract for the veteran's minimum. Memphis will pay him a prorated salary of 300,000. Arenas, a 10-year veteran, hadn't played this year after Magic jettisoned him the off-season. He's a 21.2 point-per-game career scorer, but was suspended for most of 200910 season because of handgun violations stemming from an episode on December 24, 2009, when he pulled a gun on a teammate in the Washington Wizards. Memphis general manager Chris Wallace feels Arenas is eager to prove he can still play, and won't be distraction like Allen Iverson was when he joined the Grizzlies at the start of the 2010 season. He said he was willing to come off the bench, but quickly backtracked on it. The Grizzlies quickly got rid of him. Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace said acquiring Arenas and Iverson aren't the same situation. "Gilbert was never the rock star that Allen was, and Gilbert desperately wants to get back in the NBA," Wallace said. "He's a legit card-carrying basketball junkie and he doesn't have an issue coming off the bench." -The Grizzlies would be fine if they never saw Arco Arena again. Tuesday's loss dropped Memphis to 4-28 lifetime at Sacramento. Next up for the Grizzlies is a Thursday game at Portland where Memphis is 10-20. -Memphis has now lost four of its last six games. -The Grizzlies gave up 74 points in the paint to the Kings, playing what looked like the soft All-Star game defense. "We got our butts kicked because we didn't play hard and we didn't play together," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "We've got to compete and be committed to playing defense and committed to being focused." QUOTE TO NOTE "We've just got to know that we're playing for something big -- the playoffs." -- Grizzlies G Tony Allen.
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