NEXT GAME: Thursday, April 24
8Assists from Russell Westbrook, in addition to 29 points and seven rebounds
10Blocked shots by the Thunder, including five by Serge Ibaka
11Rebounds for Serge Ibaka to go with 15 points, and assist and a steal
16Offensive rebounds for the Thunder, leading to 15 second chance points
16-10The Thunder’s advantage in fast break points
22-for-25Free throw shooting numbers for the Thunder
36Points for Kevin Durant in addition to 11 rebounds and four assists
April 21st, 2014
The Thunder had a flurry in regulation that will go down in the annals of all time Chesapeake Energy Arena moments, but after sending the game to overtime, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club just couldn’t make enough stops or get enough buckets to win Game 2.
In a 111-105 overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night, the Thunder fell behind by as many as ten points in the first quarter, only to slowly chip away at the lead throughout the game, eventually making it a back-and-forth battle in the fourth quarter. Brooks’ club did have a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter, and trailed by five points with just 18.1 seconds remaining.
An incredible sequence of events followed, as Russell Westbrook tip-toed on the sideline to save a loose ball in-bounds to Kevin Durant, who barely stayed in-bounds himself in the corner as he caught the ball. Durant rose up, with Memphis’ Marc Gasol fouling him, and somehow drained a three-pointer, plus the ensuing free throw.
The Thunder then fouled and Mike Conley made one of two free throws with 12 seconds remaining. On the Thunder’s final possession of regulation, Westbrook took a three-pointer that caromed off the rim, right into the waiting arms of Kendrick Perkins. The Thunder’s big man promptly put the ball in off the glass, sending the game into overtime as the Chesapeake Energy Arena crowd went bananas.
Ultimately, the crazy sequence to end regulation and the comeback to get the game to overtime was all for naught, as the Grizzlies pulled away with defensive stops and a crucial Zach Randolph bucket in the final minute of overtime. Despite the loss, Brooks knew his club was not going to give up until the final buzzer.
“One thing you know about our team is that we’re going to keep fighting, we’re going to keep playing and we’re going to play hard and do whatever we can to win the game,” Brooks said.
“We fought so hard to get ourselves into position to get to overtime, then we didn’t make plays,” Westbrook said. “We just have to do lock down and get stops when we need to, and we’re going to do that.”
By falling to the Grizzlies, the Thunder heads on the road for Games 3 and 4 with the series tied 1-1. The team knew going into this one that it would have a full 48-minute battle on its hands every game this series, and both sides made sure of that tonight. The Thunder shot just 39.8 percent from the field, while the Grizzlies shot 49.4 percent.
“We didn’t have the same energy that we had in Game 1,” forward Nick Collison said. “We had okay energy, but that wasn’t good enough. In Game 1, we really dictated what was going on on the court on both ends. Tonight we didn’t do it as much.”
Team leaders like Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Nick Collison and Derek Fisher all know that heading to Memphis, it needs to put together a stronger defensive effort, and that by creating stops it can manufacture better offense. Tonight Durant finished with 36 points, Westbrook had 29 and eight assists, while Serge Ibaka added 15, but the team knows that it will all start on the defensive end in Game 3.
“We have to get stops,” Westbrook explained. “We can’t score transition points if we don’t get stops. That is going to be the biggest thing for us going to Memphis- getting stops and then getting on the run.”
“You have to have that type of belief and confidence in your team in realizing that anything you want to accomplish in this point of the season, you have to be able to win on the road no matter what,” Fisher said. “We have to take these next couple days and prepare ourselves to go into Memphis and give ourselves a chance to win on Thursday night.”
The game twisted and turned throughout the evening, and even after an unbelievable Thunder comeback in regulation, the Grizzlies had one more punch in overtime. With the game tied at 105 with 35 seconds remaining, the Grizzlies went on a 6-0 run to close out the game. Zach Randolph made a layup after Tony Allen cut to the hoop, caught the ball and delivered a pass. Out of a timeout, the Thunder ran a nicely drawn-up play, but it resulted in a turnover. Russell Westbrook then nearly stole the inbounds pass, but was called for a foul, as Courtney Lee and Zach Randolph proceeded to knock down four straight free throws.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Excellent pick-and-roll defense by Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka to force a desperation heave at the end of the shot clock. Thabo Sefolosha dives out of bounds to save a loose ball, saving a Thunder possession. Caron Butler saves a defensive rebound back in bounds then Ibaka battles down low to snag an offensive board. Kevin Durant stands up Tony Allen on a dribble-drive, forcing him to turn it over. Nice backdoor cut by Sefolosha and good vision from Butler for a second chance bucket.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Pretty pocket pass by Durant to Ibaka for a jumper. Excellent helpside rotation by Westbrook to disrupt a lob pass and start a fast break. Nice work by Durant to tip a defensive rebound to himself then send a good outlet pass. Strong pick-and-roll defense forces Memphis to call a timeout with the ball on the block. Ibaka hits the deck to secure a loose ball, regaining possession. Perkins bodies up Zach Randolph and Sefolosha hustles over for the loose ball to start a fast break.
“Every game is going to be incredibly difficult from here on out. We just have to play at a higher level. That sounds easy but there are a lot of things that go into that. We’re going to have to watch film and come out and play better basketball. – forward Nick Collison