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Thunder outlast Grizzlies

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Oklahoma City struggled for three quarters against the Memphis Grizzlies, trailing 77-69 heading into the fourth quarter. That’s when James Harden and Kevin Durant took over. 26 of the 32 points in the fourth quarter were from Harden and Durant. 10 from harden, 16 from Durant.

“We knew going into the game it was going to be a very physical game. ” Coach Scott Brooks said.

It wasn’t as easy as the fourth quarter made it out to be though. Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay kept the Thunder at bay through three quarters. They were very key when any time Oklahoma City would make a run against, Gay or Gasol would find a way to score, or get to the line. The Grizzlies led by as many 12 points in the second half.

The Thunder did not panic though. Trailing 77-69 going into the fourth quarter. James harden came out and scored seven points in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter. Including a big three-point shot that tied the ball game for the first time at 81 a piece. Nick Collison would give Oklahoma City their first lead since early in the first quarter at 82-81 with 7:28 to go in the quarter.

Durant would go onto score 14 of the final 19 points, including the final 10 points of the ball game for Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook was not shy either. Westbrook hit a dagger of a three-point shot when left wide open with 3:14 remaining, giving the Thunder a 91-87 lead.

“Kevin is one of the best players, obviously.” said Brooks. “He hit some big shots.”

However, with the Thunder up 94-91, Memphis’ Mike Connelly would hit a big three-point basket with 1:12 remaining to tie the game up. Durant, with ice in his veins, went down the floor and drained a three point basket. Giving Oklahoma City the 97-94 lead with 58.3 seconds to go. He would hit the free throws, and also grab an airball in the final seconds to give him another double-double.

Oklahoma City improved their league best record to 18-4. It’s the first time since moving to Oklahoma City, that the team has reached 18-4. First time in the franchise since 2004-2005 when Seattle finished 52-30.

Post Game Grades 

Points in the paint: D
Gasol and the Grizzlies tallied 50 points in the paint and were able to grab the rebounds. It’s probably why they were able to keep the lead until the fourth quarter. Gasol was just a beast. Almost scary thinking that Z-Bo (Zac Randolph) did not play tonight.

Second Chance Points: D
Second Chance scoring: Memphis 24, OKC 9. Oklahoma City allowed 15 offensive rebounds. Only five in the second half. However, that’s five more than we really want to allow. Realistically giving up juts 10 offensive rebounds a game would be a great defensive effort. League leader is about 8.5 or so. Defense was just lack luster for three quarters.

Ball movement: F  C
Originally was going to give Oklahoma City an F on this. Only 14 rebounds. However, It’s so tough to ignore the fourth quarter. While the assists weren’t up in the fourth (just three assists), the ball movement was there. Players were able to get some looks by creating for themselves, but they also got to the line off passes. I went ahead and upgraded the grade.

Some afterthoughts

  • How UNCONCIOUS was Kevin durant in the fourth quarter? Geez, 16 points, including 4-6 from the field. Also 5-6 frmo the free throw line.
  • James Harden came out, lit it up. It was SO good to see him shooting well. He was 2-3 from deep in the first half, also 2-3 in the second half. This guy could be an all-star if he could score the same on the road. I don’t think he will be though.
  • 19-6 run midway through the third to the fourth quarter. Says it all.
  • Daequan Cook’s box score wasn’t great. However, what he didn’t show up there, outside of his three blocks.
  • I keep wanting to criticize the assists and the lack of them. However, this team keeps winning! It’s so weird if you ask me.
  • Westbrook wasn’t really on point tonight. (6-18 from the floor) However, he hit that dagger of a three point shot.
  • Pretty cheap double techincal foul on Gasol and Kendrick Perkins if you ask me.
  • I felt the crowd was very lackluster until the fourth quarter. Then they came alive and really willed this team into the lead. It was very obvious that the team fed off the crowd. That’s why this is the best fan base in the NBA.
  • I just want to point out something. Kendrick Perkins went 3-4 from the free throw line tonight. He’s a career 60.8% free throw shooter. He’s shooting 77.8% on the season. Such an improvement. He’s giving Oklahoma City almost an extra TWO points a game.
  • Oklahoma City hit 100 again. They are just three teams that average over 100 points per game. So impressive. Not to mention Oklahoma City scored 57 points in the second half tonight.
  • Oklahoma City now has a three game lead on the rest of the Western Conference. That’s just how good Oklahoma City is right now.
  • We’re officially 1/3 throught he season. OKC is on pace for 54-12.
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