Regular Season Recap - Thunder vs Grizzlies
2 Lead changes in the game, which took a big turn in the second quarter
3 Steals by Kevin Durant on the night, part of six for the Thunder, all by the starting lineup
4 Blocked shots for Serge Ibaka, increasing his season average
10 Rebounds by Kevin Durant, giving him yet another double-double on the season
13 Assists for Russell Westbrook tonight, a season-high and a part of a double-double
14-for-19 Shooting numbers for Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha combined
34 Points for Kevin Durant, a season-high, on 12-for-21 shooting
126 Combined minutes played by Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook, who tallied 68 of the Thunder's 97 points
GAME IN REVIEW
By Nick Gallo, Thunder Basketball Writer
Bursting out to a great start wasn’t quite enough for the Thunder on Wednesday night.
In a 107-97 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, the Thunder jumped out to a 30-20 lead after one quarter, but saw its opponents swing right back with a massive second quarter effort that turned the game on its head. Throughout the course of the game Grizzlies players continued to hit difficult shots over outstretched arms, leaving the Thunder with a loss. Win or lose, however, Thunder forward and leader Kevin Durant said his team’s process is always the same.
“We move past it and just have a good day of practice tomorrow and move on to New Orleans,” Durant said. “After a win we move past it, and after a loss we move past it. I give credit to Memphis. They came out, took our first hit and were able to respond pretty well. It’s a great learning lesson for us.”
The Thunder shot 48.6 percent from the field, including 6-for-13 from the three-point line, but the Grizzlies scrounged up 20 second chance points on 12 offensive rebounds that made the difference in the game. That glass work, combined with a 36-15 edge in the second quarter, broke open another-wise even contest. Tomorrow’s practice will be a new day for Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club, who will turn the page but not forget the lessons learned from tonight’s contest.
“Every game is an important game,” Brooks said. “I thought tonight they outplayed us and we’re not happy with it, but we’re going to look at film and see why that happened. It wasn’t because of effort, they just out-played us.”
Durant tallied a season-high 34 points, scoring in every which way imaginable, while also snagging ten rebounds. Offensively, the Thunder only had trouble in the second quarter, as it notched totals of 30, 26 and 26 points in quarters one, three and four. With five assists in the first quarter and a season-high 13 assists for the game, Russell Westbrook, who came into the game 11th in the NBA in assists per game, also had a double-double. In particular, his ability to break the containment of his initial defender then find open men for easy shots was impressive tonight.
“I was just finding guys,” Westbrook said. “The guys did a good job of making shots and my job is to get in the paint and get everybody involved.”
For the entire Thunder team, however, those stats don’t particularly matter – the only things these players and coaches care about are winning and getting better each day. That’s why the most important aspect of this game will actually come tomorrow morning, when the Thunder has a film session and practices before heading to New Orleans for a one-game road trip against the Hornets. It is the consistent response to each game and consistent effort each day that pushes the Thunder forward.
“(Moving forward) is what we do here, we’ve always done that,” Brooks said. “It never becomes old with us. That’s how our team is wired, that’s how our staff is put together. It’s figure out ways, we’ve done a pretty good job of that.”
To start the second quarter, the Thunder led 30-20, and seemed in control on both ends of the floor. Memphis charged ahead with a massive 11-2 burst to start the quarter to get back into it, then closed out the first half on a 10-0 run to turn a 46-45 lead into a 56-46 advantage heading into halftime. The Thunder never got closer than six points the rest of the way.
Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Sefolosha doesn’t hesitate twice in a row on three pointers, shows the confidence his teammates have in him to knock down jumpers. Collison somehow tips in a missed shot to stop a Memphis run.
Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Durant hustles back to stop the Grizzlies’ secondary break and makes a nice steal with some quick hands. Beautiful pump fake by Perkins to fake out a man, then hit Durant on a backdoor cut. Perfect bounce pass by Westbrook to hit Durant on a backdoor cut for a dunk. Nice job by Martin to deflect a pass going to the corner to prevent an open shot.
“You just have to build off of it, see what went wrong and correct it… We just get back to work tomorrow morning, watching film and just do what we know how to do best, and that’s play basketball as a team.” – Kevin Martin