Regular Season Recap: Thunder vs Grizzlies

GRIZZLIES 94

THUNDER 101
3 Blocks by Daequan Cook, tying his career high

7 Assists by Russell Westbrook, who also finished with 21 points

10 Rebounds for Kevin Durant, part of his fourth straight double double

12 Blocks by the Thunder, 1 shy of a season high

24 Points for James Harden, two less than his career high

26 Combined points by Kevin Durant and James Harden in the fourth quarter

32 Fourth quarter points by the Thunder

36 Points for Kevin Durant, one shy of his season high

The Thunder will head back out on the road Saturday night when they face the San Antonio Spurs. Game time is 7:30 p.m. Central and will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.

The Thunder keeps moving forward in its stretch of eight of nine games on the road. After the game against the Spurs, the Thunder heads to Portland on Monday, Golden State on Tuesday, Sacramento on Thursday and Utah on Friday.

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
After trailing by six at halftime and falling behind by ten points late in the third quarter, the Thunder re-focused in the fourth quarter to wrestle away control of the game from the ever feisty Memphis Grizzlies. The Thunder played lock-down defense in the final quarter, only allowing 17 points, while making tough shots in big situations to score 32 points of their own in the final stanza. Head Coach Scott Brooks praised his players for going on a 7-0 run to close out the game after it was tied 94-94 with 1:12 left.

"We definitely have some shot makers and we have some screen setters," Brooks said. "That's a good combination, and we deliver the ball. You need everything to happen for you to have success down the stretch. Kevin (Durant) tonight made the big shots. Russell (Westbrook) made a huge three. James (Harden) made a couple of huge threes and (Daequan Cook) made a huge throughout the game."

Kevin Durant had 16 points in the fourth quarter, including two huge shots in that final minute of play- a 3-pointer with a man in his face and then a fade-away in the lane to all but seal the victory. His 36 points were supported by James Harden's 24, which was two shy of his career high. Harden reeled off 10 points in the fourth quarter, including two 3-pointers during an essential 19-6 run that brought the Thunder back. According to Durant, Harden and Daequan Cook's effort on both sides of the ball were crucial to the victory for the now 20-4 Thunder.

"That's the time that you dream about as a kid, hitting big shots in the fourth," Durant said. "James did that for us tonight. He made some huge shots, the two three, he did some good things on the defensive end as well. Him and Daequan. That energy that we got kind of pushed us in that fourth quarter and we were able to get the lead."

Cook had three blocks on the night, tying his career high, which also came against Memphis. More than that, it was his effort on the glass, where he had seven rebounds in addition to what seemed like an endless number of deflections and tipped balls that he put in the hands of his teammates. At this afternoon's shoot-around, Brooks praised Cook's abilities on the backboards and Cook proved him correct tonight with his all-around showing on the defensive end and around the bucket.

"We're a team with a defensive mindset," Cook said. "You get one guy doing it, it's like a chain reaction and everybody gets to doing it. That was the biggest impact of the game tonight, guys doing the little things, making the hustle plays, keeping the ball alive and giving ourselves an opportunity to win the game tonight."

This was a hard-fought and well-earned home victory for the Thunder, who got the chance to revel in the noise and excitement in Chesapeake Energy Arena for one night before heading back out on the road for five straight games. Brooks' squad can use this win as a boost and a learning experience heading into their road trip, as they know they'll need to be on top of their game when they face the Spurs, Blazers, Warriors, Kings and Jazz in the next six days.

"We're confident in how we play, we know that we have to keep getting better, keep working on things and the little things that we talk about every day to our group," Brooks said. "Loose balls, taking charges, setting screens, passing on time, on target, those are the things that we talk about and we have to continue to get better at."

TURNING POINT:
The turning point in this one was a 19-6 Thunder run spread out over two quarters, as the Thunder looked at the scoreboard and saw a 10 point deficit with only a minute remaining in the third quarter. At 75-65 Grizzlies, Kevin Durant made a layup and Joe Harden hit two free throws to end the quarter. To start the fourth quarter Harden sandwiched two layups around a Durant lay-in, then followed it up with two three point jump shots to tie the game at 81 with 8:11 remaining. A minute and a half later, Daequan Cook knocked down a jump shot to give the Thunder an 84-81 lead. Although the Grizzlies tied the ball game late, this 19-6 run was essential in getting the Thunder back in the game.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Strong offensive rebound underneath by Russell Westbrook to finish off the first offensive possession... Then a great job by Daequan Cook to tip a rebound away from a Grizzlies player... Nice hustle by Kendrick Perkins to stay with a rebound and tip it to Cook... Incredible play by Cook to get back and block an alley-oop attempt... Cook then gets another block... Wonderful scoop shot by Perkins to score through Marc Gasol... Strong box out by Nick Collison, then good timing by Nazr Mohammed to tip in a Westbrook miss... James Harden protects his dribble while driving to the basket for a bucket... A great job of battling under the rim by Collison for a defensive rebound... Wonderful athleticism by Westbrook to deflect a ball, then hustle by Collison to dive on the floor for a loose ball... Tough defensive presence by Kevin Durant to force Rudy Gay to travel... Skying rebound for Harden after he made two straight 3-pointers... A nice pick and roll between Durant and Serge Ibaka, as Ibaka slipped the screen and Durant found him for a turn-around hook shot... Beautiful back-cut by Durant and lob from Westbrook for an alley-oop... Good hustle by Ibaka to get back and block a fast-break layup attempt... Strong blocked shot by Durant to force a shot clock violation.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Nice pick set by Perkins to get Durant open for a jump shot... Ibaka putting Marc Gasol on a poster after a nice dish from Durant... Another assist from Durant off a curl as he finds Cook in the corner for three... Four straight possessions of finding Durant on a curl in the lane, all of which resulted in points... Incredible defense by Perkins on Gasol, then nice hustle by Durant to pull down the rebound... Great rotation by Ibaka to stop a Rudy Gay drive... Amazing leaping ability by Westbrook to go up and get a high Perkins pass... The crowd reaching a fever pitch after a Westbrook run-out and dunk... Durant with a dazzling scoop layup... Nice steal by Westbrook who pushes it to Harden to draw two shots... A nice job by Cook to tip a rebound to himself and then get it to Harden, who ran out and scored... Tough defense by Collison and Durant, as Durant grabbed the ball and raced to the other end for 2 points... Beautiful outlet pass by Collison to Harden, who saved the ball and scored a layup... Staunch defense from Westbrook to knock the ball out with 1.7 seconds left on the shot clock. Harden then tipped OJ Mayo's shot attempt... Durant giving a huge fist pump after a Harden 3-pointer... Good save by Cook, then a wonderful no-look dish by Harden to Collison, who drew a foul... Cook blocking yet another shot after knocking down a two-pointer... Great hustle by Westbrook and Cook to tip a loose ball to themselves and get possession... On the next possession Durant tips his own miss twice and puts it in... Cook tips a rebound to Durant to prevent a Grizzlies offensive board... Huge block by Perkins on a Rudy Gay drive... Durant with a major swat of a Rudy Gay shot... Great pressure defense to force a Grizzlies turnover... Chants of MVP ringing out for Durant after he hit two huge shots to seal the victory.