Regular Season Recap: Thunder at Grizzlies
0.4 The number of seconds left in the first half when Kevin Durant was fouled in the back court. He knocked down both free throws.
18 First half points by Russell Westbrook
25 First half rebounds by the Thunder, 7 more than the Grizzlies
15-of-16 First half free throws by the Thunder
4 Combined blocked shots by Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins
3-for-3 Thabo Sefolosha’s shooting night from three-point land
+12 the rebounding margin for the Thunder tonight
The Thunder heads to New Orleans for a Wednesday night matchup against the Hornets. Game time is 7 p.m. and will air live from New Orleans Arena on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.
This will be the fifth game in six days for the Thunder. The team will get two days off before hosting the New York Knicks at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Saturday.
“We knew going into this that we were going to have to worry about the first game and get the second game next,” Brooks said, referring to this Memphis-New Orleans trip. “That’s been our mentality since I’ve taken over, just take it one practice, one game at a time.”
GAME IN REVIEW
The Thunder always seems to do battle against the Memphis Grizzlies when the two teams meet, and Tuesday night was no different. After edging the Grizzlies by three points in late December, the Thunder again left Memphis with a hard-fought victory, this one coming by the score of 100-95.
After a back-and-forth first half, the Thunder tightened up its defense and held Memphis to only 19 points in the third quarter and 43 points for the entire second half. That lockdown defense featured six Thunder blocks, including two apiece from Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. There were 13 lead changes and eight ties throughout the game, but only two of those lead changes occurred during the second half and the Thunder held the lead for the entirety of the fourth quarter.
With the Thunder clinging to a 75-74 lead less than a minute into the final period, rookie point guard Reggie Jackson drew a foul and knocked down two free throws to push the lead to three. A short tinme later, Kevin Durant threw a long, cross-court pass to Daequan Cook for a 26-foot falling-away 3-pointer to push the advantage to 82-77. The Thunder lead would not fall below three points for the remainder of the game.
With 5:26 remaining Memphis got within three after a Mike Conley and Rudy Gay run-out to make it 88-85, but James Harden responded by making a slick drop-off pass to Perkins for a reverse layup to push it to 95-90. Then, with 25 seconds remaining, it was again a three-point game at 95-92, but Thabo Sefolosha and Perkins trapped Gay in the corner and forced a turnover.
Durant hit two free throws on the other end to push the lead to 97-92 points with 23 seconds remaining to seal the win. The Grizzlies got two more chances to cut into the lead but couldn’t convert on either, while Perkins and Russell Westbrook converted three-of-four free throws to put the game out of reach at 100-92 with 10.5 seconds remaining.
A 12-1 run by the Thunder starting with 5:20 remaining in the third quarter erased a three-point deficit and turned it into an eight point advantage with 1:18 remaining in the third quarter. It was 66-63 Grizzlies when Durant started the run by knocking down a 19-foot jumper with 5:07 to go. He then followed it up on the other end by blocking a shot, gathering the ball and pushing it to Westbrook for a fast break layup to give the Thunder a 67-65 lead with 4:38 remaining in the quarter. The Thunder never trailed after that sequence, as it forced Memphis into turnovers on each of its next two possessions and four missed jump shots during the run.
The run was continued when Serge Ibaka gathered a defensive rebound then slipped through multiple defenders to knock down a short jump shot to push the lead to 69-66 with 4:08 to go in the quarter. OJ Mayo hit one free throw to cut the lead to two, but Harden hit a 3-pointer off a Nick Collison offensive rebound and kickout with 2:30 remaining in the quarter. Collison had another assist on the next possession when he dumped the ball off to Westbrook for a layup with 1:52 to go in the quarter and Westbrook returned the favor to Collison 30 seconds later, who drew a foul and converted on one-of-two free throws to give the Thunder a 75-67 lead and all of the momentum.
Plays the box score won’t show, First Half:
Kevin Durant playing great defense on a Rudy Gay backdoor cut. Those two both grew up in the Washington DC/ Baltimore area and played with each other for USA Basketball… Russell Westbrook pulling up for one of his patented elbow jump shots to stop a 0-for-5 shooting start by the Thunder… Great behind the back dribble off a loose ball by Kevin Durant after a Thabo Sefolosha steal. Durant then pitched it ahead for a Sefolosha layup… Westbrook seeing full-court pressure and pushing tempo, drawing a foul… High-leaping rebound by Westbrook on one end before going coast-to-coast and finishing with his left hand…Durant using a hesitation dribble to get around Gay along the baseline…Nazr Mohammad with a great tip-in off a James Harden miss… Reggie Jackson squaring up his feet and shoulders off a curl and knocking down an elbow jumper…Good team defensive rotation to force a tough 3-point shot by Memphis after five passes… Nice use of the bounce pass by Russell Westbrook to assist Nick Collison’s reverse layup… Kendrick Perkins gets a tough offensive board in traffic, gets fouled and knocks down both free throws… Two offensive boards by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the same possession, Westbrook finishes it with a put-back…Tip by Perkins to Thabo for a defensive rebound… Rebound and save by Perkins on the defensive end… Durant fouled in the backcourt with 0.4 seconds left in the half, knocks down two free throws.
Plays the box score won’t show, Second Half:
Great help-side block by Serge Ibaka on Rudy Gay at the rim, Perkins follows with a block on the same Grizzlies possession and Ibaka challenging shots in the paint on the next Memphis possession… Ibaka and Westbrook tip the ball off of two misses, then Ibaka with another offensive board and lays it in… Great screen by Ibaka to give Durant the separation he needed for a jumper… Stout defense by Sefolosha then a help-side block by Durant that leads to a Westbrook fast break… Very nice low post move by Ibaka to slip a triple team and continue the Thunder’s 6-0 run… Ibaka drawing a Marc Gasol offensive foul… Tipped pass on defense by Harden and Sefolosha that resulted in a Memphis turnover… Sefolosha coming over to double team Mike Conley in the corner… Alert job by Nick Collison to get an offensive board and kick-out to Harden… Collison contesting two shots, then Durant drawing a foul on Gasol by getting in good position… Give and go from Westbrook to Collison back to Westbrook on a drop off pass… Westbrook returns the favor on the next possession and Collison knocks down one of two free throws... Tough rebound by Nick Collison then a huge screen on the opposite end to free up Durant for a lay-in… Long skip pass from Durant to Cook for a momentum-changing three-pointer, followed by Collison breaking up an alley-oop… 10th rebound by Durant, who brings the ball down court and hits a jumper for his 20th point… A hustling Nick Collison getting the Thunder an extra possession with an offensive rebound and kick-out… A small, quick Thunder lineup of Westbrook, Cook, Harden, Durant and Collison locking down on defense… Stretching tip-in by Perkins to put Oklahoma City up by seven…Sly drop-off pass by Harden to Perkins for a reverse layup… Westbrook staying active and picking up a loose ball after Cook tips the defensive rebound… Incredible vision by Durant to find Westbrook under the hoop for a reverse layup… Lockdown defense by Sefolosha and Perkins to double team Rudy Gay and force a turnover… Westbrook changing Conley’s layup with 19 seconds remaining and forcing a miss to seal the victory.