Regular Season Recap: Thunder vs Grizzlies
3 Steals by Russell Westbrook in the first quarter alone
5 Assists for James Harden on the night, the game-high
6 Blocks by Serge Ibaka on the evening
9-for-10 Free throw shooting numbers for Russell Westbrook
11 Rebounds for Kendrick Perkins, including three on the offensive end
12 Lead changes in the game, which also featured nine ties
21 Points for Kevin Durant, the high for the Thunder on the night
44 Points in the paint for the Thunder on 22-for-37 shooting
The Thunder will hit the road for two games, starting with a tilt in Miami against the Heat on Wednesday. Game time is 7:00 p.m. Central and will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.
The Thunder then heads to Indiana to face the Pacers on Friday before returning home for a game at Chesapeake Energy Arena against the Toronto Raptors.
GAME IN REVIEW
By Nick Gallo, Thunder Basketball Writer
It was a bruising, in-your-face game played at a slow tempo, and ultimately, the Thunder simply wasn't able to make enough plays down the stretch to beat a strong Memphis Grizzlies squad, falling 94-88 at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Nearly erasing a nine-point deficit in the final three minutes of the game, the Thunder gave itself a chance by playing with a ton of heart and courage, but ultimately OJ Mayo hit a dagger three-pointer and did enough on defense to prevent a Thunder comeback.
'Give Memphis some credit," Head Coach Scott Brooks said. "I thought they did a good job of putting their hands on us and being physical throughout the game at all positions. I thought also we were just a bit out of sync. I don't think it was a lack of effort. It was just out of sync... We knew going into it we were going to be in for a very tough game, a physical game, an intense game, and it was."
The Thunder shot 45.2 percent on the night, lower than its normal average, but it held Memphis to a meager 39.1 percent shooting. Unfortunately, the Thunder's defense, including eight blocks and six steals, wasn't enough to combat 18 turnovers and 14 offensive rebounds allowed. After the game forward Kevin Durant said that Memphis did a good job of limiting the Thunder's transition opportunities, but ultimately the shots weren't falling for a team that played with energy and hustle all night.
"I think our defense was good, we were playing hard," Durant said. "Shots weren't falling for us, they made some big shots down the stretch. That's the game. We turned the ball over more times than we assisted the ball, so of course that's a tough formula... They came out and they made plays. You have to give credit to those guys, they played hard."
This was the fourth meeting of the season between these two squads which also shared a ferocious seven-game playoff series last season. This year the Thunder started off 3-0 against the Grizzlies, but ultimately weren't able to come away with the fourth straight victory. Teams become familiar with one another and it's difficult to sweep a good team in a season-series, making this one a tough test for the Thunder. Even when Memphis was hitting difficult, contested shots and the Thunder's shots were rimming out, Durant, Russell Westbrook and the rest of the team buckled down and answered every Grizzlies run until the one in the closing seconds.
"We just kept playing," Durant said. "We knew that our shots weren't falling, but we just continued to play defense. I think we did a good job of that in making them shoot tough shots, and they made some. We can't get discouraged by this loss. Of course we want to win every game, but I think we have to get past it and get ready for the next one."
The Thunder had charged back from a nine-point deficit with only 3:28 remaining in the game to cut the Grizzlies lead to one point with 39.2 seconds remaining, but Memphis was able to make more plays down the stretch to get the victory. It was 87-86 when the Grizzlies scrambled to find a decent shot. Russell Westbrook harassed the ball handlers and the Thunder's big men were hedging and switching screens. Ultimately, just as the shot clock was winding down, OJ Mayo hit a 25-foot three-pointer to put the Grizzlies ahead 90-86 with 17.2 seconds remaining. That margin was too much for the Thunder to overcome thanks to a perfect 4-for-4 free throw shooting display by Memphis to end the game.
PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Serge Ibaka makes a fierce but smart blocked shot, leading to a Kevin Durant-to-Thabo Sefolosha corner 3-pointer… Russell Westbrook makes a steal down low off an in-bounds play leading to a Thunder run-out, then he hits a bank-shot the next time down… Incredible quickness by Westbrook to make a steal in a one-on-one transition situation, then Kendrick Perkins makes an offensive rebound for a slam dunk… Great hustle by all five Thunder players to force a jump ball… Sefolosha jumps in and snags a loose ball and draws a foul, then Westbrook smartly goes after Tony Allen, drawing his second foul… Durant gets a three-pointer to go in after it hits every single part of the rim, then Ibaka makes a beautiful pass in the lane to Perkins to draw a foul… Westbrook uses his athleticism to make a great steal, then Durant crosses his man up in the lane to get to the rim and dunk… Westbrook leaps up high to win a jump ball…Unbelievable Euro-step move in the lane by James Harden to elude three defenders and get to the rim…Slick pass from Harden to Nick Collison in the corner for a jump shot at the end of the shot clock… Nazr Mohammed tips a defensive rebound to Derek Fisher, then draws a foul by boxing out the next time down… Harden slips a pass to Collison in a give-and-go situation for a tough layup, then Fisher does a great job of harassing Gilbert Arenas on the defensive end… Great job by Sefolosha to get into OJ Mayo’s grill on defense, leading to a Harden layup on the other end… Harden gets past physical play on the outside to get into the lane and find Mohammed for two free throw attempts… Nice hustle by Collison to continue to tip a loose defensive rebound to himself… Durant sets a nice screen out front to free up Harden for a 3-pointer, then Perkins forces Zach Randolph into a tough shot, leading to a Westbrook drive and dish to Perkins for a layup… Great positioning on the offensive boards by Perkins, leading a nice pass to a cutting Harden for a layup… Westbrook somehow sneaks into the lane to grab an offensive rebound, then Westbrook gets to the rim with ease and finishes with his left hand… Great work by Westbrook to get the two-for-one and find Ibaka for a dunk in the lane, then Harden hits Sefolosha for a corner 3-pointer as the half comes to a close.
PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Tough defensive rebounds from Perkins and Sefolosha on back-to-back possessions, then Ibaka comes back to help on the weak side and make a block… Westbrook makes another offensive rebound, leading to a Sefolosha-to-Perkins-to-Ibaka interior passing display… Durant gives himself some space, then rises up and hits a jumper as the shot clock expires, then Durant hits Ibaka for a mid-range jumper… Perkins follows up a Westbrook miss with a major slam dunk, then Westbrook hits Durant on a pump-fake and dish for a 3-pointer… Insane behind-the-back, spin-move drive by Durant to knock in a floater, then Collison hustles to a loose ball and Harden slams it home off the ensuing drive… Fisher drives and kicks to Collison for a short corner jumper… Durant comes off a curl and squares his body for the jump shot… Strong move to the block by Westbrook to get the edge and hit a leaner, then Durant slides down the baseline and drops off a pass to Ibaka for a layup… Great defense for 24 seconds by the Thunder capped by a blocked shot to force a shot clock violation, then Collison comes flying in off a Durant miss for a one-handed put back dunk… Collison tips a defensive board to Ibaka, then Harden drives the lane and scoops a pass to Ibaka for the layup-and-one… Two consecutive jumpers by Westbrook keeps things close, then Perkins leaps high for a big defensive rebound… Ibaka races back to block a wide open transition layup, then Harden sneaks a bounce pass to Ibaka for a mid-range jumper… Huge defensive board from Harden, who then gets into the lane and draws a foul… Perkins scrambles for a defensive board, getting Westbrook the ball in transition… “Defense” is the chant from the crowd as Durant knocks away a pass, then the Thunder forces a 24-second violation, then Westbrook flies into the lane to draw a foul.