Dallas Mavericks

Memphis relies on inside strength

Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol will be tough for Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks to handle tonight at the American Airlines Center.
Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol will be tough for Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks to handle tonight at the American Airlines Center. Special/John Rhodes

The first order of business tonight for the Dallas Mavericks is to find a way to keep center Marc Gasol and power forward Zach Randolph under control.

The two bookend big men for Memphis, Gasol and Randolph have provided the muscle which has enabled the Grizzlies to post the third-best record in the NBA at 47-21. They bring physical play not seen in most NBA corners.

Tonight at 7:30 at American Airlines Center, it’ll be the Mavericks’ turn test Gasol and Randolph.

“We’ve just got to keep bodies on them and try to contest shots,’’ said coach Rick Carlisle, whose team is 44-25. “They’re both very, very skilled and they’re both great rebounders, so they go get the ball.

“We’ve just got to work to prevent them from doing that.’’

Part of containing Gasol and/or Randolph will depend on Amar’e Stoudemire’s play. The reserve center/power forward might even find himself on the court at times with starting center Tyson Chandler.

“They’re a pretty big team on the inside and they play well together,’’ Stoudemire said. “They’ve been together for a while now, so they’ve got pretty good chemistry.

“It’s going to be a challenging game, but we’ve got to accept the challenge.’’

Gasol is listed at 7-1 and a generous 265 pounds, while Randolph is 6-9 and a svelte 260 pounds. Gasol averages 17.8 points and 7.9 rebounds and is widely considered as one of the league’s better passing big men, while, Randolph is averaging 16.4 points and 11.2 rebounds.

“He’s a good passer, he’s a good basketball player, he knows the game of basketball,’’ Stoudemire said of Gasol. “He takes the game as it’s given to him, which is great.

“I think we’ve just got to do a good job on Zach in the post.’’

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @dwainprice

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