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The cut took 45 minutes, and when Randolph removed the gown, he gleefully ran a paw over his shorn scalp. He hugged the barbers, promised a pop-a-shot rematch and strolled out into the rain. "He looks good," Rhodes said. "He's ready."
SATURDAY, MAY 11
Game 3, Memphis
FedExForum is nicknamed the Grindhouse, and to get there, Gasol drives his Mercedes sedan west on Interstate 240, under a billboard with his picture next to the slogan LET'S GET TO WORK. "I see the same sign on the way home, too," Gasol said. He was born in Spain but raised in Memphis after the Grizzlies drafted his older brother, Pau, with the third pick in 2001. He blends Europe's finesse with America's physicality, the best of both basketball worlds. Gasol grew up going to Grizzlies games, the arena half empty, and now it's as crowded as B.B. King's at Blues Fest. "There's a lot of pride in doing this at home," Gasol said. He lay on a training table before Game 3, across from Randolph, who was discussing the summer vacation he has arranged to Gasol's other native land. "I want to know where the nude beaches are in Spain," Randolph joked.
"They're all nude," Gasol responded.
"Oh, yeah," Randolph purred.
Coaches often fret that players won't apply adjustments after wins the way they do after losses because complacency creeps in. Hollins told the Grizzlies he planned on installing several smaller lineups, with three guards, to spread the floor so they could drive. "This is to get the defense out of the lane," he explained to them. Levien, the CEO, sent Conley a text message on Saturday morning informing him that he scored more points per possession on isolation plays than any other player in the league. "This is your time," Levien wrote. "Your moment."
The three-guard groupings meant that Conley's backup, Keyon Dooling, would also see significant minutes, stunning considering he was retired six weeks ago. Last August, Dooling was eating at one of his favorite restaurants, Metropolitan Grill in Seattle, when he got up to use the restroom. Standing in a stall with the door unlocked, Dooling felt a male patron grab him from behind and flew into a rage. "I choked the guy," Dooling said. "If I didn't have a friend there to hold me back, I'd be behind bars right now." The episode unlocked memories that Dooling, 33, had hidden even from his wife. He was sexually abused in elementary school by predators of both sexes, one a family friend.
Dooling flew home to Boston, where he was under contract for another year with the Celtics, and struggled to eat or sleep. He was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for four days and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Dooling told the Celtics he could no longer play and committed himself to therapy, yoga and meditation. He worked as a player development coordinator in Boston's front office, went to appointments at Harvard with Timothy Benson, a psychiatrist, and launched a foundation called Respect to raise money for treatment of sexual abuse victims who can't afford it. "The most embarrassing part of my life became the most empowering," Dooling said. He started to miss basketball, and in April the Grizzlies signed him.
On Friday, Dooling met for nearly an hour at FedExForum with a young fan who was abused. The next day he went through his normal pregame routine: whirlpool, ankle tape and a light lift in the weight room, surrounded by 14 TVs showing video of previous Thunder-Grizzlies matchups. As Dooling and his teammates gathered in the hallway, Allen punched each of them in the chest. "Don't leave nothin' to chance!" he shrieked. Equipment manager Chuck Sweeney wrote a message with his fingertip in the mound of rosin on the scorers' table: WIN.