Hollins sends Randolph to bench to help chemistry

Considering the Grizzlies had lost five of their last six games, including three straight on the road, coach Lionel Hollins wasn’t afraid to shake up his rotation against the Lakers on the final stop of a four-game West Coast road trip.

So, he went back to the way the Grizzlies were when they didn’t have Zach Randolph available because Randolph was hurt.

Hollins started Marreese Speights at power forward vs. the Lakers and decided to bring Randolph off the bench. And Hollins didn’t play new acquisition Gilbert Arenas one second, giving all the backup point guard time to Jeremy Pargo.

Sounds crazy, right?

Not really. Randolph gave the Griz bench more scoring pop while working himself back into game rhythm. The starting lineup with Speights had more of its natural chemistry. Pargo showed he was more aggressive than Arenas, who has been tentative in his first two games with the Griz. And the Grizzlies beat the Lakers 102-96.

The key to all of this was Randolph buying into coming off the bench, because he had worked so hard rehabbing the torn MCL in his knee that he injured Jan. 1 vs. the Bulls.

“I understood (Hollins’ decision) because I’m still trying to get back in playing shape and get back my timing,” said Randolph, who had 10 points and 12 rebounds in his first double-double since returning from his injury. “I want to win. If it helps our guys until I get back right and get back into the starting lineup, then that’s what I’m going to do.”     

NOTES, QUOTES

-The Grizzlies (26-21) head home for a Tuesday pit stop against the Timberwolves. Then they hit the road for three more games,

“The West (Conference) is really tough,” coach Lionel Hollins lamented. “One day you’re in third and the next day you’re in sixth. We’re all beating up on each other.”

-The Griz bench outscored the Lakers’ bench by an incredible 41-9 Sunday. Seven Grizzlies scored in double figures, including three (Zach Randolph, O.J. Mayo and Hamed Haddadi 10) off the bench.

“Everybody has to play great for us to win,” Randolph said. “This isn’t a one-man team. We’re a scrappy team. That’s what it takes for us to win games.”

QUOTE TO NOTE

“Coach Hollins has proven that what he says works as long as we give 100 percent.” — Griz guard O.J. Mayo.