Grizzlies spoil Warriors home opener for first win of season

Associated Press
11/3/2012 1:32:24 AM
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Zach Randolph leaped to make a block from behind on Brandon Rush and instead hit him in the head, throwing the Golden State Warriors forward off balance and sending him crashing to the court in a scary fall.

Down came the home team's coronation.

Down came any celebration for the Memphis Grizzlies' first victory, too.

Randolph finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds as the Grizzlies spoiled Golden State's home opener with a 104-94 victory over the Warriors on Friday night after Rush injured his left knee. Randolph ran to the Warriors locker room later to offer his remorse and any help for the unintended injury.

"Man, that really threw me off," Randolph said. "I had shook it off in the second half but that really kind of bothered me the first half. It really bothered me."

Same for Golden State.

Marc Gasol and Mike Conley both scored 21 points, and Rudy Gay added 18 points and eight rebounds to help Memphis build a 14-point lead following the fall. The Grizzlies rebounded from a loss at the Los Angeles Clippers two nights earlier, but could hardly smile in the locker room afterward.

Randolph's foul on Rush in the first quarter put a damper for all involved in Golden State's first game at Oracle Arena this season. Rush, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in 2007 while at Kansas, held back tears and had to be helped off the court. He was scheduled to have an MRI on Saturday.

"I think that took a little bit out of us," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said.

After looking rattled for several minutes and facing a large deficit, Golden State scored 15 straight points to take a 39-38 lead before the Grizzlies ran away with the victory in the second half.

Stephen Curry scored 26 points and had seven assists and reserve Carl Landry added 20 points for Golden State on a night all the good vibes from Wednesday's win at Phoenix came crashing down. New centre Andrew Bogut, easing back into game shape after left ankle surgery, had 4 points and three rebounds in 18 minutes.

"When you see one of your brothers go down like that, emotionally, it was pretty tough," Curry said.

Not exactly the way the Warriors wanted opening night at Oracle to end.

A pregame video montage showed highlights from last season and mixed in shots of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland. Players walked through a mock Bay Bridge complete with lights and fireballs popped after each name was called.

Owner Joe Lacob sat courtside cheering in one of the blue T-shirts every fan received. The Warriors also wore their blue road jerseys to support the theme.

All the party planning couldn't prevent what happened next.

Rush leaped in the air for a dunk when Randolph fouled him from behind with 4:09 left in the first quarter. Rush's left leg landed awkwardly, his knee bent badly and he tumbled to the floor.

Rush got up on one leg, waved his arms violently in the air and shook off teammates who tried to help as the announced sellout of 19,596 halted to a hush. He covered his face in agony and openly wept, eventually limping to the locker room with the support of teammate Jeremy Tyler and trainers.

"His reaction kind of said everything," Curry said.

Randolph put his arm around Rush at one point. The Grizzlies forward said he "went over there and told (Rush) I was sorry and that if he needs me, I'm there for him, whatever he needs."

Memphis selected third-string centre Andris Biedrins to shoot the free throws. The home fans booed Biedrins -- the former starter -- when he checked in, just as they did during team introductions before the game, and he missed both free throws.

Rush signed an $8 million, two-year deal in July after coming over in a trade from Indiana last season. He had been Golden State's first player off the bench and a key cog late in games.

In the moments following the fall, the Warriors looked lost.

Quincy Pondexter's dunk capped a 24-15 spurt after Rush's injury, moving Memphis ahead by 14 points early in the second quarter. Golden State's rally expended all the energy it had left too early.

"It was another hard-fought battle," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "Our guys were focused and had a lot of intensity, had a lot of effort. They stuck together and overcame a lot of adversity out there. It was a rock-em-sock-em game."

NOTES: Bogut is expected to sit out Saturday night at the Los Angeles Clippers. Warriors coach Mark Jackson said he plans to rest Bogut to rest when the on the second half of back-to-back games early this season to ease the centre -- and his surgically repaired left ankle -- back into game shape. Rookie Festus Ezeli will likely start. ... Randolph also unintentionally poked Ezeli in the eye during the first quarter. The rookie centre returned after a few minutes. ... A moment of silence was held before the game for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast.

Mike Conley  (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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