PORTLAND, Ore. — Zach Randolph said he doesn’t mind coming off the bench if that’s what is best for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Against his former team, it certainly was.
Randolph had 26 points and a season-high 18 rebounds, and Memphis beat the Trail Blazers 91-78 on Monday night to spoil Damian Lillard’s return to the Portland lineup.
"I’m a team-first guy. It’s not about me, it’s about winning and whatever the coach thinks is best for the team. So that’s how I’m approaching it," Randolph said.
Randolph also came off the bench Saturday when Memphis lost at Utah 92-87 in overtime, scoring just eight points with five rebounds in 25 minutes.
Grizzlies coach David Joerger said Randolph was disappointed in his performance against the Jazz and told the coach he could do better.
"He doesn’t like it, let’s be honest," Joerger said. "He’s such a pro and his teammates respect him a lot and he respects his teammates a lot. He’s out there doing everything he can."
Lillard had missed seven games for the Blazers because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot. The Blazers went 4-3 while he was out, with CJ McCollum sliding over to point guard.
Lillard looked rusty at the start of his return and the Grizzlies took advantage, leading by as many as 20 early in the fourth quarter.
Portland closed the gap to 80-71 after Lillard’s 3-pointer with 6:11 left. Meyers Leonard hit another 3 that got the Blazers to 84-76, but Randolph answered with a long jumper and Portland ultimately couldn’t catch up.
Lillard led the Blazers with 17 points. He shot 4 of 14 from the field but made all seven free throws.
"I was just happy to be out there," Lillard said. "I didn’t put too much pressure on myself, it being the first game. I just wanted to come out and make sure that I was responsible and did what I needed to do defensively, get to the spots I needed to be on and make the right plays."
Courtney Lee had 16 points and Mario Chalmers added 10 off the bench for Memphis, which got 50 points from its reserves.
Matt Barnes returned to the Grizzlies after a two-game suspension for an altercation with New York Knicks coach Derek Fisher in October.
Randolph, who spent his first six seasons with the Blazers, scored six points in his first 9 minutes and the Grizzlies had a 17-15 lead after the first quarter. Neither Lillard nor McCollum scored in the period.
Memphis led 38-34 at halftime, with Lillard going 0 for 5.
McCollum’s 3-pointer pulled the Blazers into a 40-all tie but Memphis wouldn’t let Portland get in front, going on a 15-5 run to take a 55-45 lead capped by Randolph’s long jumper.
Randolph became the third Memphis player with multiple games of 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds off the bench. He’s got nine double-doubles this season.
McCollum finished with 16 points.
Portland was coming off a 112-106 victory at Denver the night before.
Lillard had 27 points and McCollum scored 20 earlier this season when the Blazers beat the Grizzlies 115-96 at the Moda Center.
Grizzlies: Mike Conley was questionable for the game because of a sore back but he started. … Vince Carter acknowledged the cheers following a feature on the video scoreboard in which most of the Blazers said Carter was the game’s best dunker.
Trail Blazers: Lillard is on Forbes magazine’s 30 under 30 list. … Portland is 2-9 in the second game of back-to-backs. … Portland’s 78 points were a season low.
His points tied a season high and his rebounds set a season best. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Randolph is the first player 34 or older to have 26-plus points and 18-plus rebounds off the bench.
MATCHING UP WITH Z-BO
The task went to Al-Farouq Aminu, who finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds for his sixth double-double this season.
"I thought we gained a little traction with that lineup with (Aminu) guarding him and spacing at the offensive end," Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "You’ve got to pick your poison with the offence struggling."
The Grizzlies visit Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
The Trail Blazers host the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.