MEMvOKC: Grind City Rewind 3.25.19
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Postgame Report: Grizzlies Battle on the Boards to Thwart Thunder, 115-103
The Memphis Grizzlies matched a season-high in rebounds to top the Oklahoma City Thunder, 115-103 on Monday night in FedExForum. The Grizzlies improved to 30-44 on the season and 20-18 at home, winning five of their last six in FedExForum. The Thunder dropped to 43-31 on the year and are now 23-13 on the road. The win snaps a nine-game losing streak to Oklahoma City, and prevented a series sweep as the Thunder won season series 2-1.
Memphis mopped up on the glass, outrebounding Oklahoma City 57-41, including a 44-29 advantage on the defensive boards. The Thunder entered tonight as the second-best rebounding team in the NBA (48.1 rpg), while the Grizzlies were 29th (41.3 rpg). The Grizzlies’ 57 rebounds tie a season-high (2/25/19 vs LAL).
With several players out for Memphis the scoring came by committee, with all five starters scoring in double-digits. Bruno Caboclo scored a career-high 24 points while tying a career-high 11 rebounds to earn his first career double-double. Caboclo’s previous scoring high was 16 points, which also came against Oklahoma City on Feb. 7 this season. Delon Wright also earned his first career double-double, scoring 18 points while passing out a career-high 13 assists. Wright has set a new benchmark in assists twice within the last week, as he had eight assists in Orlando on March 22. Jonas Valanciunas recorded his fourth consecutive double-double, finishing with 18 points and grabbing a game-high 14 boards. Valanciunas is averaging 23.5 points and 16.8 rebounds in his last four games. Tyler Dorsey chipped in with 21 points and eight rebounds, marking the second time in the last three games that he’s scored over 20 points. Justin Holiday rounded out the scoring efforts with 17 points to go with seven rebounds and five assists. It’s the first time all five starters have scored in double-digits this season since Dec. 26, 2018 in a 95-87 win against Cleveland, although none of the starters in that game were in action tonight.
Memphis finished the game shooting 40-for-89 (.449) from the field, while Oklahoma City went 38-for-95 (.400). Both teams shot 33 percent from three-point range, with the Grizzlies finishing 11-for-33 and the Thunder at 12-for-36. The Thunder won the turnover battle, 15-10, but the Grizzlies outscored them 17-13 in points off of turnovers. Memphis mopped up on the glass, outrebounding Oklahoma City 57-41, including a 44-29 advantage on the defensive boards. The Thunder entered tonight as the second-best rebounding team in the NBA (48.1 rpg), while the Grizzlies were 29th (41.3 rpg). The Grizzlies passed out 31 assists tonight, compared to 17 by the Thunder. Memphis has recorded at least 30 assists in 11 games this season, and are now 6-5 when they do so.
Paul George led the Thunder with a game-high 30 points and 12 rebounds, giving him his 23rd double-double of the season. George now has 30 games with at least 30 points this year. Dennis Schroder poured in 25 points off the bench. Russell Westbrook finished with 16 points (6-20 FG), a team-high seven assists and five rebounds. Ferguson chipped in with 13 points, making all three of his three-point attempts in the game.
Memphis made 11-of-20 (.550) shots in the fourth quarter, while holding Oklahoma City to 8-of-21 (.381) shooting. The Thunder threatened to come back throughout the final period, as they turned a double-digit Grizzlies’ lead into single-digits seven different times. A Terrance Ferguson at the 7:10 mark to trim the Grizzlies lead to 94-87, but the Grizzlies would immediately respond with a 9-3 run over the next 2:28, giving them another double-digit cushion at 103-90. George would drain a pair of clutch threes at the 1:40 and 1:13 marks, but they were interspersed by a pair of Caboclo alley-oops to prevent any major momentum swings for the Thunder. Both teams committed four turnovers in the fourth quarter, but the Grizzlies scored seven points off the giveaways while the Thunder scored only two.
After trailing 73-55, the Thunder stormed back with a 14-3 run from 6:35 to 4:24 (2:11 span) to bring the score back into single-digits. The Thunder made 10-straight shots beginning with that run, until there were 56 seconds left in the quarter, as part of a 13-for-25 (.520) shooting performance. The Grizzlies weren’t far behind though, shooting 12-for-22 (4-7 3P) in the third to lead 86-78 heading into the final frame.
Defense was the story of first half, as both teams shot under 37 percent from the floor. Memphis went 17-for-47 (.362) in the half, while Oklahoma City shot 17-for-49 (.347), and the teams combined to make just 10-of-39 (.256) three-pointers. The Grizzlies committed seven turnovers in the half, which the Thunder converted into nine points, while Oklahoma City’s five giveaways turned into seven Memphis points. Westbrook and George, who entered tonight averaging a combined 51.3 points and 17.8 field goals per game, shot 6-for-26 (.230) from the field and had 18 points in the half.
The Grizzlies opened the game with a 16-2 run, starting the game 7-for-7 (2-2 3P) from the floor while the Thunder made just one of their first nine shots. Memphis made half their shots (12-24 FG) in the first quarter, despite connecting on just 2-of-10 (.200) threes. The Grizzlies also assisted on 10 of their 12 baskets. The Thunder shot 7-for-25 (.280) from the floor, including going 2-for-11 (.182) from beyond the arc, and had only two assists in the quarter. The Grizzlies got to the rim in the quarter, outscoring the Thunder 18-10 in the paint while shooting 9-for-13 (.692) in the lane to take a 31-23 lead going into the second quarter.
Oklahoma City’s offense moved the ball better in the second quarter, beginning the period with a 9-2 run to give them their first lead at the game at 34-33. The Grizzlies shot a season-low percentage in the period, going 5-for-23 (.217) from the field, but made 10-of-11 (.909) free throws throughout the second to offset their struggles. George tomahawked a dunk home with 1.4 seconds left before halftime, but the Grizzlies led 54-48 at the break.
The Grizzlies will host the reigning NBA Champions, the Golden State Warriors, for the first time this season on Wednesday, March 27 at 7 p.m. CT inside FedExForum. Come out to the game, tune in to FOX Sports Southeast presented by Pinnacle Financial Partners or listen on 92.9 FM ESPN to follow the action.
Fans who want to support the Memphis Grizzlies and purchase single-game tickets can do so now by calling (901) 888-HOOP or going online to grizzlies.com/tickets. Single Game Tickets are also available for purchase at the FedExForum Box Office, ticketmaster.com, online at grizzlies.com/tickets or by calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX. For more information on the Grizzlies, visit grizzlies.com, ‘like’ Memphis Grizzlies on Facebook or follow on Twitter and Instagram (@memgrizz).
On his biggest takeaway from tonight’s victory:Just the fight [in this team]. That’s what we’ve been talking about for a while: Just how hard can guys compete? Can they raise their level of competition when it matters most? Our guys play extremely hard. And when you do that consistently, good things will happen for you. You go down the stat sheet and just look at what guys were able to do, you know what I mean? We had all five of our starters in double figures. We asked Bruno [Caboclo] to help us on the glass. He goes out and gets us eight defensive boards. It’s a compliment to those guys, you know, sticking with it. [Some media members] asked me before the game if I thought our guys were giving the white flag. I think that answered the question for everybody.
On whether Russell Westbrook’s high shot volume was something Memphis wanted:He’s going to play the way he’s going to play. There’s not a lot you can do to stop him from playing his game. What we were trying to do is keep him out of our paint as much as we could, force him into taking as many jump shots and try to keep him off the foul line. Again, it’s easier said than done. He got to our paint, was able to finish some. I thought in that fourth quarter Jonas [Valanciunas] did a great job of coming over and being early and deterring [Westbrook’s] drives. We were just trying, like I said before, to raise our level of competition. It wasn’t about, ‘Make this guy do this,’ or ‘Make that guy do that.’ In the locker room before the game, we just told guys to compete and win the battle that’s in front of you as many times as you possibly can. And I thought our guys stuck to that tonight and got it done.
On the Grizzlies’ relentless drives to the basket throughout the game:Yeah, they continued to put pressure on people. Fortunately for us and the NBA, that’s the way the league is. The league is about guys who have the ability to put the ball on the floor and break down defenses. Whether that gets you a layup or forces help, which now creates an open three for somebody else, but you have to got to do that. In an effort since the trade stuff happened, to try to speed the game up more, to put more dribble penetration in the game, I think our guys are figuring it out. Not only the guys who are involved, but now they understand where to be as an outlet and guys trust those guys are going to be there as outlets. We made some pretty difficult baseline passes from baseline drives, and they just trusted their teammates were going to be there.
On having a career-high in assists:Coaches have been doing a good job of just telling me to keep penetrating into the paint and either finish or find my teammates on the perimeter. I think I did a good job of that today and it translated into assists.
On what brings about a team effort:I just feel like some of our new players, we even had two-way guys playing today, everybody just wants the opportunity. Once we get the opportunity, what can we do with it? I feel like the people who got in today did a good job of playing good minutes.
- Bruno Caboclo scored a career-high 24 points while tying a career-high 11 rebounds to earn his first career double-double. Caboclo’s previous scoring high was 16 points, which also came against Oklahoma City on Feb. 7 this season.
- Delon Wright also earned his first career double-double, scoring 18 points while passing out a career-high 13 assists. Wright has set a new benchmark or reached a career high in assists twice within the last week, as he had eight assists in Orlando on March 22.
- Jonas Valanciunas recorded his fourth consecutive double-double, finishing with 18 points and grabbing a game-high 14 boards. Valanciunas is averaging 23.5 points and 16.8 rebounds in his last four games.
- Tyler Dorsey chipped in with 21 points and eight rebounds, the second time in the last three games that he’s scored over 20 points.
- Justin Holiday rounded out the Grizzlies’ scoring efforts with 17 points to go with seven rebounds and five assists.
- Paul George led the Thunder with a game-high 30 points and 12 rebounds, giving him his 23rd double-double of the season. George now has 30 games with at least 30 points this year.
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