It reminded me of the 2011 playoffs between Memphis and Oklahoma City. The hard nosed defense, the body colliding offense, and Oklahoma City struggling in the half court offense. Memphis used 14 offensive rebounds in the first half to stay within striking defense of a decent shooting Thunder team to hold on and win 94-88. The loss for Oklahoma City dropped them to 40-13 on the season and 23-5 at home. Also, the loss ended their six game winning streak.
Oklahoma City led early in the first quarter but the Grizzlies fought back with extra chance points, The grizzlies had 16 second chance points in the first half. Oklahoma City fought from an early 5-11 deficit to take the lead 17-11. Memphis closed the quarter on a 11-6 run to end the first quarter with a thunder one-point lead.
Memphis really controlled the tempo throughout the game. They forced Oklahoma City into a half court offense all night. The Grizzlies limited Oklahoma City to just two fast break points for the ball game.
Oklahoma City closed the second quarter with the last five points, including a Thabo Sefolosha three-pointer which gave Oklahoma City the 44-42 lead at the break.
The second half was much more of the same, except for one thing. The Grizzlies were hitting shots. Memphis led by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter. Grizzlies led by eight points multiple times. Each and every time Oklahoma City made a run, the Grizzlies would find a way to keep their distance.
Oklahoma City trailed 87-78 with 3:15 to go in the game and then the Thunder tried to get back in it. Russell Westbrook scored the Thunder’s final six points of the ball game. However, would not be enough for them tonight. With :17.2 left in the game, OJ Mayo hit a three-point dagger as the shot clock wound down, giving the Grizzlies a four point advantage.
Post Game Grades
Keep up the pace: F
Memphis did exactly what they wanted. They forced Oklahoma City into a half court offense. Oklahoma City couldn’t do anything they wanted. The Pace was really slowed. In fact, Oklahoma City had just two fast break points and they didn’t even come until late in the ball game when Memphis already had a decent lead.
Offensive Rebounds: D
Oklahoma City allowed Memphis to stay in the game with the offensive rebounding in the first half. The Grizzlies had 14 offensive rebounds. They had 10 at halftime, so that’s why I didn’t give them an F. They limited the Grizzlies with just four in the second half. However, the Grizzlies used 16 second chance points in the first half to keep themselves in what should have been a double-digit lead at the break.
Three-Point Shooting: D
OKC was just bad tonight from three-point land. You can give Memphis a lot of credit for that tonight. OKC was 5-21 from deep for just 24%. Enough said on that.
- Russell Westbrook shot poorly tonight. Didn’t play well overall. I think the Grizzlies really just give him fits. I personally think he does much better with Mike Conely on the floor. Westbrook was 5-16 from the floor for 19 points. He was great at getting to the line and getting points when it matter for Oklahoma City.
- Cannot say enough on how much Kevin Durant saved this team. When the Thunder needed a basket, he was your man. There wasn’t a lot of help for three quarters though. That said, Durant didn’t shoot exceptional either. He shot 40% tonight. He was clutch in the third quarter though.
- Tonight’s offense looked tired. I’m not the only one that saw it. Yeah, they had flashes in the fourth quarter, because that’s what elite teams do. However, just wasn’t enough tonight.
- TWO fast break points all night. Memphis got back on defense while crashing the boards was just very impressive.
- The ugly turnover bug reared its head tonight. 18 for Oklahoma City. Those 18 accounted for 23 for Memphis.
- These are short and sweet tonight. Oklahoma City has to get ready for Miami tomorrow.
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