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- The Grizzlies will be without starting forward Zach Randolph tonight. Randolph, who is averaging 16.7 points and 12.3 rebounds, is suffering from flu-like conditions, coach Lionel Hollins said. Starting in his place will be forward Marreese Speights, who is averaging 6.4 points and 4.8 boards as a reserve. Backup point guard Jerryd Bayless will be available despite playing just two minutes in Wednesday’s win at Boston after he suffered a sprained ankle.
- The Trail Blazers are playing the third game of their four-game road trip. They currently are 1-1, having beaten the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on New Year’s Day before losing at Toronto the following day. Portland wraps up its trip tomorrow night at Minnesota.
- Portland point guard Damian Lilliard is the team’s second-leading scorer at 18.4 ppg. His impressive play has caught the attention of Hollins. Hollins credits developing his skills for three years at Weber State. “He has great poise,” Hollins said. “His skill level is really high. The one thing that players that have been in school longer periods of time have over the one and done’s, the one and done’s have all the athletic potential, but the guys that stay in school tend to have a higher skill level because they stayed in school to work on them. … He’s very poised and he’s deceptively quick. He gets the shots he wants most of the time and that’s a rarity in a young player.”
- Tonight will be a homecoming of sorts for Portland rookie guard Will Barton. Barton played two seasons with the University of Memphis before declaring for the draft last year. The 6-5 guard is averaging just under three points.
– By Marlon W. Morgan