Tag - Memphis Grizzlies

Thunder Playoff Game Day No. 5: vs. Utah Jazz

Utah leads series 3-1

Wednesday, April 25 :: 8:30 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)
TV Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27)
TV Coverage: NBATV
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 2½-point favorites. The over/under is 207½.
Online StreamFS OK | WWLS Sports Animal | Live Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Jazz: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder’s season comes down to this, trailing 3-1 to the fifth-seeded Utah Jazz, the Thunder have to get a victory to keep their season alive.
  • Oklahoma City is 0-4 all-time in Game 5s when they trail a series 3-1. They’ve lost one of those Game 5s at home, a 2013 series loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. (the Westbrook knee injury playoff years).
  • The Jazz beat the Thunder 113-96 on Monday night, outscoring Oklahoma CIty 86-59 over the final 33:35 of the game.
  • Russell Westbrook was fined $10,000 and given a technical foul for his part in the altercation with Rudy Gobert.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).
  • Tonight’s game is on NBATV for the national broadcast. It’s unknown who the broadcast team will be.

THUNDER INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson (ruptured patellar tendon) is out for the season.

JAZZ INJURY REPORT

  • Thabo Sefolosha (knee) is out.



Three Keys to the Game

Second Quarter

Utah has outscored the Thunder by six, 12 and 13 points in three Jazz victories. Oklahoma City outscored Utah by six in their lone win. While this seems arbitrary, the point differentials mean a halftime lead in every single game. The team who leads at halftime is 4-0 in this series. That’s on par with regular season numbers. Utah was 11-26 when trailing at half and the Thunder were 11-21. Thunder were 36-10 and Utah was 35-8 when leading at the break, respectively.

Second chance scoring

This might as well be rebounding, too. They go hand-in-hand. The Thunder are only averaging 9.0 offensive rebounds per game in this series. That would put them 27th in the NBA in the regular season. They averaged 12.5 offensive rebounds per game in the regular season, first in the NBA. Something has to change. In their only win, Oklahoma City scored 19 second chance points. They scored 21 in their three losses.

Big Three

When your season comes down to one game, it’s up to your “superstars” to figure it out. There hasn’t been a game where everyone is on the same page. There hasn’t been a moment where you were just overwhelmed with their ability because they were just dominating, even in Game 1. Oklahoma City needs all three to step up and perform the way they can. They need to “flip the switch.” Which is their favorite saying.

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Game 2 Injury report

With Game 2 only hours away, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Utah Jazz will throw down. If Oklahoma City wins, they take a commanding 2-0 series lead into Salt Lake City. If Utah wins, the series becomes even once again.

All of that aside, the most important thing is the injuries! Oklahoma City has a couple of issues and so does Utah. So, let’s examine them.

JAZZ

Donovan Mitchell

The rookie sensation hurt his toe in Game 1. He went back to the locker room in real pain. However, he returned, hit some shots, and made a run of it. The x-rays were negative for any fracture or break but there is still obvious pain.

“I’m real determined on playing but if my body can’t, I’m not going to push it now and not be available the rest of the series,” Mitchell said. “I think it’s a matter of being smart with it.”

With is career ahead of him and the constant misdiagnosing of team physicians, it’s not a complete surprise if Mitchell was to sit out today. He has his entire career ahead of him. A loss this season isn’t going ot kill any chance of them winning a ring. They weren’t winning one anyway, even if they beat Oklahoma City in this series.

Probability of playing: 90%

Thabo Sefolosha

The beloved former Thunder player has become a staple in the Jazz lineup before getting hurt. Sefolosha underwent surgery on his right MCL in mid-January, with this news being the first update on his recovery process. His timetable puts his return to full form sometime in the summer.

On top of the MCL injury, Sefolosha has been suspended for five games due to a violation of the NBA’s anti-drug program, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.

OUT

THUNDER

Andre Roberson

Roberson’s patellar tendon tore on January 27 and he’s been out ever since. There’s no hope of him coming back this season. Despite the photos of him taking set shots and all of that, he’s not coming back this season. He’s done. We do miss him though. Miss you Dre Dre

OUT

Corey Brewer

Brewer sprained his knee nailing a three over the very bad Memphis Grizzlies on April 11. There was hope it was only a sprain and not anything more serious. He played in Game 1, saying he was 80 percent. That’s good, as it’s been an entire week now since he sprained his knee. Plenty of time for Brewer to rest.

Probability of playing: 100 percent

Paul George

George was diagnosed with a hip contusion late in his nuclear performance in Game 1’s win over Utah. “Playoff P” had 36 points and powered Oklahoma City to victory. George, obviously hobbled by the hip, really hasn’t practiced and wasn’t made available to the media this afternoon for shoot around due to getting treatment. Don’t think that’s going to hold him out.

“It’s the playoffs, I don’t miss playoff games,” George said.

Probability of playing: 100 percent

 

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Nick Collison’s legacy is more than basketball

Nick Collison has been more than just a basketball player for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He has not only been a great teammate but a friend, a mentor, and a helping hand here in the community. His impact has been felt immensely from the players around him, and a favorite to any Oklahoma City Thunder fan you talk to.

Mr. Thunder has been with the Seattle Supersonics/Oklahoma City Thunder franchise his whole career, dating back to when he was drafted in the first round in 2003. He holds a special place in Thunder fan’s hearts, and that showed on Wednesday night versus the Memphis Grizzlies.

Collison’s locker room bravado is hard to understand because it’s not antiquated within a numeral. If you had to, you could put it to wins. The stability for younger players and his ability to connect on a personal level goes beyond the court.

“He is somebody I always look up to, man. It is a real pleasure to have him here. I just wanted to make sure you all showed him some love,” Westbrook said.

Russell had to pause while talking about Collison, as Thunder fans were giving Nick the standing ovation he rightly deserved.

After the game, Westbrook continued to sing praises of being around a guy like Collison for ten seasons. “I’m just thankful to have him by my side each and everyday. I appreciate everything he’s done for me,” Westbrook said.

“It was cool. It meant a lot to me,” Collison said. “We’ve been through a lot together, and it was cool to be able to have a moment like that.”

It was cool to see Nick being shown the love and adoration that this city and this organization has for Collison. It is way more than just what Nick brings to the basketball floor, but also what he brings to this community and his teammates off the floor.

Like Westbrook mentioned in his pregame address, Collison has been not only a teammate but a mentor. That is exactly what he has been for Steven Adams. Ever since Adams was drafted at the age of 18, Collison made an immediate impact, helping develop Steven into the person and player he is today.

Not only has Collison helped Adams on the court, they have developed quite the friendship as well, traveling together during the offseason. Adams even took Collison to his homeland of New Zealand a couple offseasons ago.

Collison has accepted this role and mentored a lot of the young guys that have been up and coming in the Thunder organization. Not only Adams, but guys like Jerami Grant and Enes Kanter when he was here have been taken under Collison’s wing as well.

It is Nick’s leadership and mentoring ability that has been a huge part in this successful Thunder organization. A lot of Adam’s offensive game can be contributed from the help of Collison. Especially that patented ‘flip’ shot that Steven seems to make every time now down the floor.

When you ask other teammates, even guys like Paul George and Carmelo Anthony who have only been his teammate for one season, they have nothing but great things to say about what kind of person and human Collison is.

“Just seeing what he has brought to this team and this organization, being one of the true pioneers of the game when it comes to Oklahoma City,” Anthony said.

“It’s amazing just how great this community is, and just the love that they have for one of the best human beings that I have been around,” George said.

George mentioned how the community loves Nick, and his impact here in Oklahoma City is undeniable. As any NBA team, they love to be involved and make a difference. That is no different for the Thunder, and especially for Nick.

Collison has developed many relationships here in Oklahoma City, and made an everlasting mark. He has made countless donations, with his money and time.

It is easy to see Collison loves to help people here in Oklahoma City, early in 2018 he took a family on a $10,000 grocery shopping spree.

Collison also visited a VA hospital earlier in the season, building some relationships with the people there. It is acts like these that Collison has done countlessly over his ten years here in Oklahoma City that has made him a pillar in the community.

So when you hear the crowd give Nick “MVP” chants, or the “We Want Nick”, it is easy to realize that it is more than just basketball. They absolutely admire Collison for the person he is, and the countless selfless acts he has done for the State.

Nick Collison did more than just play basketball for this organization. He also embodies what the people of Oklahoma are all about: hard work, dedication, and resiliency. That is another huge reason in why this city adores Collison so much.

Nick has always been the ideal NBA veteran any team would want. A calming voice in the locker room, always working hard and improving his game, mentoring to the young guys and always ready to play when his name was called.

Nick’s legacy will be more than just what he did in the stat sheet, or how many games he played in. It is the mark he has made in this community, in this organization, and obviously with his teammates. It is easy to see why Collison will be one of the first in Thunder history to get his jersey retired into the rafters.

We don’t know if Collison is ready to hang it up just yet, but that last regular season game, it couldn’t have went down a better way. Collison got the roars from the crowd, the love from his teammates and even got some minutes where he played just like the player we all know he his.

When you talk about Thunder as an organization, it is impossible to not mention the contributions Collison has made to the franchise, and the fingerprints he has all over on the very foundation that this team was built on.

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Thunder beat down Grizzlies as Westbrook makes history

Many saw the final game of the 2017-18 regular season for the Oklahoma City Thunder as a foregone conclusion.

They had already proven to be mentally tough by winning on the road in Houston and Miami and earning a spot in the playoffs. A matchup with the lowly Memphis Grizzlies had little to do with this game’s pregame hype.

That of course rested with the will-he/wont-he Russell Westbrook grab those 16 rebounds to clinch averaging a triple-double for the second consecutive season. A feat no other player has ever accomplished.

“It’s amazing,” Billy Donovan said afterwards. “Last year everyone tracked it and this year no one did. It just speaks to how great of a player he is.”

The reigning MVP did not disappoint as the Oklahoma City Thunder used his ability to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 137-123 on Wednesday night.

“It’s an unbelievable blessing,” Westbrook said in the locker room. “To have teammates that support me, and I support them. To succeed at a high level like this. It’s special.”

Westbrook finished with a career-high 20 rebounds, 19 assists and a meager six points. There was some fair share of conceding by Westbrook’s teammates to allow their point guard to gobble up a rebound or two. But this was a game where Westbrook’s rebounds led to explosive outlet-to-fastbreak points for Oklahoma City.

“He (Westbrook) really surveys the floor well,” Donovan said. “When our team is shooting the ball like that, he tries to read the game to the best of his ability and it resulted in some easy points.”

With the Thunder up 27 at halftime and Westbrook only five rebounds away from the 16th board, everything seemed to be going according to plan. A few minutes into the third quarter Westbrook grabbed rebound number 16 to a loud Chesapeake Energy Arena crowd, and then it seemed Oklahoma City stopped playing focused.

“We didn’t do a great job,” Donovan said. “But we took care of business when we had to.”

Memphis went on to outscore the Thunder 39-28 in the third quarter. The deficit was cut to nine. We have all seen this movie before.

But it ended up being Oklahoma City’s night. A Terrance Ferguson three followed by two Raymond Felton buckets kept the Grizzlies from mounting a serious comeback and the Thunder were able to leave with a victory.

Lost in all this was the fact that Paul George decided not to miss a shot for most of this game. The recently struggling George dropped 40 points on 13-of-20 shooting (8-of-14 from 3) and looked like the player prior to the All-Star break.

The Thunder now know their foe in the playoffs — the Utah Jazz. Currently, the Jazz are playing Portland on the road. Depending on that game will determine whether the first playoff game will be in Oklahoma City or not.

Three Keys to the Game

Bench: A

40 points is great any night. Ferguson was great from three, dropping 12 points. Jerami Grant did his usual solid stuff. Felton was a welcome addition.

Efficiency is key: A

Oklahoma City shot over 55 percent for the game. They scored a season high 77 points at half. All this without their leading scorer attempting to score much.

Rebound: A

For obvious reasons. 

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Thunder Game Day No. 82: vs. Memphis Grizzlies

Oklahoma City Thunder (47-34, 20-20 away)

at

Memphis Grizzlies (22-59, 6-34 away)

Wednesday, April 11 :: 7:00 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)
TV Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27)
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 16½-point favorite. The over/under is 211½.
Online StreamFS OK | WWLS Sports Animal | Live Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Grizzlies: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • Welcome to the final day of the 2017-18 NBA regular season! The Thunder host the Memphis Grizzlies in a game that weirdly enough has a lot of meaning.
  • Oklahoma City hasn’t lost at home to Memphis since Nov. 7, 2014.
  • The Thunder need a victory to move into the fourth seed, but they’ll need help Utah has to lose to in Portland tonight. If that happens, Oklahoma City will host the Jazz.
  • If Oklahoma City wins and the Jazz win, Oklahoma City will be the sixth seed. They’ll travel to Utah for the first round.
  • If the worst happens, and Oklahoma City loses, they’ll be the eighth seed and go to Houston.
  • Oklahoma City finished their death march, 11 straight games vs. teams .500 or better 5-6, which is better than some predicted.
  • Russell Westbrook also needs 16 rebounds to become the first person in NBA history to have two seasons of a triple-double average. He’ll also be the first person who would have back-to-back seasons with the triple-double average.
  • Westbrook has two triple-doubles in both games he played against Memphis this season.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).

SCOUTING THE GRIZZLIES

  • The Memphis Grizzlies are 22-59 on the season, 14th place in the Western Conference.
  • Over their last 10 games, Memphis is 3-7.
  • In their last 10 road games, the Grizzlies are 1-9, including four straight.
  • In their previous game, Memphis lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves 113-94 on Monday night.
  • In their all-time history, Oklahoma City is 59-26 against Memphis.
  • Since relocation for the Thunder, Oklahoma City is 22-14.
  • Surprisingly, despite the large point spread tonight, neither team has been favored by 10 points or more in the series.
  • Oklahoma City is 12-5 against Memphis at the Peake, winning five straight.
  • The last loss at home to the Grizzlies: Nov 7, 2014, the injury plagued season.
  • Oklahoma City goes for the four-game season sweep. It would be the first season sweep in the series by either team.
  • Oklahoma City beat Memphis 121-114 on Feb. 14, a large comeback in the fourth quarter led to the victory.
  • INJURY REPORT:
    Tyreke Evans (Personal) is out.
    Marc Gasol (rest) is out.
    JaMychal Green (knee) is out.
    Andrew Harrison (wrist) is out.
    Wayne Selden Jr. (knee) is out.
    Jarell Martin (ankle) is out.
    Chandler Parsons (knee) is out.
    Mike Conley (heel) is out.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Memphis came on Dec. 8, 2015, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 125-88 (37-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (34 points) vs. Memphis occurred during a 114-80 loss on Dec. 19, 2016.

THUNDER INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson (ruptured patellar tendon) is out for the season.
  • Alex Abrines (concussion) is out.

Playoff Scenarios

  • There are three playoff scenarios remaining for the Thunder. They’ll need help. Here they are:
  • Thunder win + Utah win over Portland = Oklahoma City 4th seed and would host the Jazz in the first round.
  • Thunder win + Portland win over Utah = Oklahoma City 6th seed and would travel to Utah in the first round.
  • Oklahoma City loss to Memphis tonight = Oklahoma City 8th seed and would travel to Houston in the first round.

WHAT’S IN A GRIZZLIES NAME

  • When Vancouver was awarded an expansion franchise in 1994 to begin play the following season, the team’s owners had tentative plans to name the team the Mounties.
  • The Royal Mounted Canadian Police and fans alike objected, so team officials resumed their search for a name. The local newspaper sponsored a name-the-team contest, which club officials monitored before choosing Grizzlies, an indigenous species to the area, over Ravens.
  • When the team relocated to Memphis before the 2001-02 season, FedEx was prepared to offer the Grizzlies $100 million to rename the team the Express, but the NBA rejected the proposal.



Three Keys to the Game

Bench

Though the bench is 29th in scoring, they’ve been key down the stretch. They were large on Monday night in the comeback against Miami. They were big against Houston. The starters should dominate tonight. Oklahoma City needs the bench to keep the tide the way it is.

Efficiency is key

Oklahoma City is 31-4 when when they outshoot their opponent. Oklahoma City comes out, shoot better, they’re most likely going to run away with this. It’s huge for Memphis to win games. The Grizzlies are 3-49 when they’re outshot by their opponents. Surprisingly enough, the Thunder have been outshot in two of the three games. Cannot give these back ups a real chance. Shoot well.

Rebound

Oklahoma City has to win the rebounding battle tonight. The Thunder are 34-11 when they have the same or more rebounds as their opponents. They’re a fun 13-23 when they lose the rebounding battle. Plus, we want to see Westbrook go bananas.

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Oklahoma City Thunder Playoff Seeding Scenarios

So, step one is done. Oklahoma City is in the playoffs. Now, where will they be? That’s the big question.

On Wednesday night, Oklahoma City will play the Memphis Grizzlies, there are TONS of options going forward. We’re going to do our best to breakdown every Thunder scenario.

You want a real big cliff notes: If Utah splits and Oklahoma City beats Memphis, Oklahoma City is the four. If OKC loses, they’re most likely eighth. If the Thunder win against Memphis they’ll finish no lower than sixth.

However, there are a billion other breakdowns, so let’s just jump into it.

If you know of any scenarios I missed, please tweet us with scenarios, we’ll add it.

8th Seed

If Oklahoma City loses to Memphis, this is where they’re going. This is what they deserve for losing to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Minnesota (1-3) and Denver (1-2) both own the tiebreakers over Oklahoma City. So, the winner of their will jump Oklahoma City. It’s assuming Utah split, losing to Portland:

4. Utah
5. New Orleans/San Antonio winner
6. Denver/Minnesota winner
7. New Orleans/San Antonio loser
8. Oklahoma City

 

Even if Utah drops both games, here’s what it would look like and New Orleans won

4. New Orleans
5. Minnesota/Denver winner
6. Utah
7. San Antonio
8. Oklahoma City

7th seed

It’s really tough for Oklahoma City to get the seventh seed. One way has to happen exactly like this:

  • OKC loses to Memphis
  • NOLA loses to San Antonio
  • Utah beats Portland
  • Minnesota beats Denver

In this instance, the Standings would be like this

  1. Houston
  2. Golden State
  3. Utah
  4. Portland
  5. San Antonio
  6. Minnesota
  7. Oklahoma City
  8. New Orleans

This happens because in the three-way tie, the combined record of Minnesota, OKC and NOLA Head-to-head comes out like this:

  • Minnesota: 4-0 vs. NOLA | 3-1 vs. OKC = 7-1
  • Oklahoma City 1-3 vs. MIN | 1-2 vs. NOLA = 2-5 (Western Conference 27-25)
  • New Orleans 0-4 vs. MIN | 2-1 vs. OKC = 2-5 (Western Conference 26-26)

Oklahoma City sneaks to the seventh spot by their win over the Houston Rockets, essentially.

Another option is if Utah loses both games and the Thunder lose and San Antonio wins

4. San Antonio
5. Minnesota/Denver winner
6. Utah
7. Oklahoma City
8. New Orleans

6th seed

There are a couple of different scenarios for Oklahoma City end up sixth, even with wins.

Utah loses both and Oklahoma City beats Memphis, it’ll look like this

4. New Orleans/San Antonio
5. Minnesota/Denver
6. Oklahoma City
7. Utah
8. New Orleans

If Utah splits but beats Portland and OKC wins:

3. Utah
4. Portland
5. San Antonio/New Orleans
6. Oklahoma City

5th seed

If the Thunder beat the Grizzlies and the Jazz go 0-2, they creates a bit of a logjam in the middle again, obviously.

Here’s the first scenario with a Minnesota win:

4. San Antonio/New Orleans winner
5. Oklahoma City
6. Minnesota
7. Utah
8. San Antonio/New Orleans loser

With a Denver win:

4. San Antonio/New Orleans winner
5. Oklahoma City
6. Utah
7. Denver
8. San Antonio/New Orleans loser

4th seed

This one is a little bit clear cut as the Thunder need to win against Memphis and have the Jazz split beat either the Warriors or the Blazers, while losing the other one. Completely possible as the Warriors may be resting to get their guys ready for the playoffs. Portland may have more to play for as they lost to Denver on Monday night.

If OKC wins, San Antonio/New Orleans winner, and Utah beats Golden State but loses to Portland

4. Oklahoma City (5-3 vs. UT/SA; 4-3 vs. UT/NO)
5. Utah (4-4 vs. OKC/SA; 4-4 vs. OKC/NO)
6. San Antonio (3-5 vs. OKC/UT)/ New Orleans (3-4 vs. OKC/UT)

3rd seed

Oklahoma City cannot claim the third seed as Portland owns the 4-0 head-to-head tie-breaker with the Thunder.

2nd seed

Golden State has locked this up as they’re 11 games up in the standings on the Thunder.

1st seed

Houston has this locked up as they own a 17½-game advantage on the Thunder.

 

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Thunder beat Rockets 108-102

In a game that you could say is a must win, Russell Westbrook played fantastic defense and the Oklahoma City Thunder stunned the Houston Rockets 108-102 on Saturday night.

With the win, Oklahoma City improves to 46-34 on the season but remain seventh in the Western Conference playoff race as San Antonio and New Orleans also won on Saturday night.

Oklahoma City ended Houston’s 20-game home winning streak and the Thunder win the season series for the first time since 2013-14.

It appeared it could’ve all been done with as Houston was gaining momentum heading into the fourth quarter but Jerami Grant used all his might to will the Thunder into the lead. Grant fueled Oklahoma City’s 9-2 run to start the fourth quarter, which was capped on a Paul George jumper with 9:14 left in regulation.

Gerald Green threw in a floater, giving Houston the 92-91 lead with 7:09 remaining.

Oklahoma City would go on an 11-0 run to ice the game.

It started with a Westbrook pull up three. Patrick Patterson would hit the lay up and would be capped by a Westbrook lay up. When you looked up, the Thunder had built a 102-92 lead with 3:47 left in regulation

Houston went scoreless for more than four minutes, missing seven shots and committing three turnovers as Oklahoma City pulled away. The Thunder also blocked three shots in that span.

Houston would cut the lead 105-100 with 33.2 seconds remaining but Paul George and Alex Abrines would hit their free throws down the stretch to beat the Rockets.

The Thunder led by as many as 11 in the first half, but Houston used a 5-1 spurt take a 62-61 lead at halftime.

Westbrook finished with 24 points on 10-of-28 from the floor, seven rebounds and 10 assists. Steven Adams only played in 28 minutes but finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.

Carmelo Anthony was instrumental in the Thunder building a double digit first half lead. He was 3-of-3 in the first half from deep for 17 points. He finished with 22 points and six rebounds on the evening.

George struggled throughout the third but came up big in the fourth quarter. George finished with 24 points on 6-of-17 shooting, 3-of-7 from deep and was 9-of-10 from the free throw line tonight.

Oklahoma City now has to win one of their final two games to get into the playoffs. They’ll go to Miami on Monday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. If Oklahoma City wins, they’re in the playoffs. Lose and they’ll have to hope for a Nuggets loss or beat the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.

Keys to the Game

Force Turnovers: B

Oklahoma City forced 17 turnovers tonight, leading to 22 points. That’s huge as the Thunder lead the league in points off turnovers. They have to continue to do this as they go forward. To do this against the Rockets is a good start.

Free Throw: A+

Oklahoma City took 10 more free throws than Houston tonight. Paul George went 9-of-10 from the line. Westbrook went 3-of-5 from the line. Holding the Rockets to only 23 free throws was the biggest thing tonight. It’s the lowest total for Houston since March 27 against Chicago.

OK3: A+

Oklahoma City improved to 14-3 when three players scored at least 20 points each. They were in sync all night and really showed what they can do when they’re all clicking. They didn’t seem like they were forcing anything and it paid off in the fourth quarter.

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Thunder Game Day No. 80: at Houston Rockets

Oklahoma City Thunder (45-34, 26-13 home)

at

Houston Rockets (64-15, 34-6 home)

Saturday, April 7 :: 7:30 p.m. CST :: Toyota Center (18,043)
TV Coverage: ABC (5 DirecTV, 8 Cox, 705 HD, 5 AT&T U-Verse, 5 Dish)
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 6-point underdog. The over/under is 218½.
Online Stream: ABC | WWLS Sports AnimalLive Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Rockets: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder travel to Houston to take on the NBA’s best team, the Houston Rockets.
  • Oklahoma City is in dire need of a win after everyone else found victory this week. Oklahoma City is a game back of the Utah Jazz but are only a game away from being out of the playoffs.
  • 47 wins gets Oklahoma City into the playoffs. Oklahoma City needs two wins in their final three games to get into the playoffs.
  • Houston beat the Thunder 122-112 on March 6. In that game, Houston took 34 free throws to Oklahoma City’s 11. That was your ball game. Oklahoma City’s aggressiveness will be imperative.
  • Oklahoma City hasn’t won the regular season series with Houston since 2013-14.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Tonight’s broadcast is on ABC only. Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson, and Doris Burke will have your broadcast play-by-play and such. Sorry about Mark Jackson.

SCOUTING THE ROCKETS

  • The NBA’s best team, the Houston Rockets are 64-15 on the year. They lead the rest of the NBA by seven games.
  • Over their last 10 games, the Rockets are a cool 9-1.
  • Houston is 36-4 over their last 40 games. They’re 28-11 before that. Not a typo.
  • Houston beat the Portland Trail Blazers 96-94 on a Chris Paul last second shot on Thursday night.
  • All-time against the Rockets, Oklahoma City is 108-107.
  • Since relocation, Oklahoma City is 15-20 against Houston.
  • When games played at the Toyota Center, the Thunder are 4-12.
  • Oklahoma City’s last win in Houston came on Jan. 16, 2014. It’s six straight losses since.
  • The Thunder and the Rockets have split the series match ups this season 1-1, both winning on their home courts.
  • Houston beat the Thunder 122-112 on March 6. In that game, Houston took 34 free throws to Oklahoma City’s 11. That was your ball game. Oklahoma City’s aggressiveness will be imperative.
  • INJURY REPORT:
    Eric Gordon (Foot) is a game-time decision.
    Ryan Anderson (ankle) is out.
    Tarik Black (back) is a game-time decision.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Houston came on Dec. 29, 2013, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 117-86 (31-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (12 points) vs. Houston occurred during a 89-77 loss on Nov. 1, 2008.

INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson (ruptured patellar tendon) is out for the season.

NEXT UP

  • Oklahoma City will travel to Miami for the a showdown with the Heat on Monday, April 9.
  • Then , the Oklahoma City Thunder wrap up the regular season against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, April 11.

WHAT’S IN A DUB’S NAME

  • The Houston Rockets originally called San Diego home.
  • Rockets was chosen via a name-the-team contest and was a reference to the city’s theme, “A City In Motion.”
  • Liquid-fueled Atlas rockets were also being manufactured in San Diego.
  • When the team moved to Houston in 1971, it made perfectly good sense to keep the name, as Houston was home to a NASA space center.



Three Keys to the Game

Force turnovers

Houston (No. 6) and Oklahoma City (No. 1) are both top six in points off turnovers. Oklahoma City turned it over 20 times in their previous meeting. The Thunder cannot let that happen again. Take care of the ball. Limit points in transition and hold on for dear life. That’s how you survive against Houston.

Free throws

Oklahoma City has to limit free throws and then make free throws. They’re 29th in the NBA in free throw percentage. They cannot let Houston get to the line 34 times tonight. That’s an instant loss for a team who hasn’t won in Houston since 2014. A four year drought is too much.

OK3

Oklahoma City needs the Big Three to show up more than ever before. Westbrook needs to be efficient and slicing like a hot knife through butter. Paul George needs to be exceptional on both sides.They didn’t show up on Tuesday and it cost this team dearly. Carmelo Anthony needs to hit his open shots and be smart. If they do this, the Thunder will win.

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West playoff watch

The wild wild west is in full action.

On Wednesday night, the San Antonio Spurs lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 122-112 in overtime. The New Orleans Pelicans decimated the Memphis Grizzlies by a billion points. So, here’s the updated Western race:

W

L PCT GB
1 Houston 63 15 0.808
2 Golden State 57 21 0.731 6
3 Portland 48 30 0.615 15
4 Utah 45 33 0.577 18
5 San Antonio 45 34 0.57 19
6 Oklahoma City 45 34 0.57 19
7 Minnesota 44 34 0.564 19
8 New Orleans 44 34 0.564 19
9 Denver 43 35 0.551 20
10 LA Clippers 42 36 0.538 21

Thursday’s games

Clippers at Utah 8 p.m. CST

Minnesota at Denver 9:30 p.m.

Friday’s games

Minnesota at LA Lakers 9:30 p.m.

Here’s Oklahoma City’s seeding potentials

No. 1 seed

Oklahoma City with only three games remaining cannot secure this spot as they’re 19 games back of the Houston Rockets.

No. 2 seed

Oklahoma City with only three games remaining cannot secure this spot as they’re 13 games back of the Golden State Warriors.

No. 3 seed

With only three games remaining, Oklahoma City cannot secure this spot as they’re four games back of the Portland Trail Blazers.

No. 4 seed

The Utah Jazz have been flying up the standings. They’re 15-5 since the All-Star break and that’s why they’re one game up on the Oklahoma City Thunder in the playoff race. However, Utah has one game in hand on Oklahoma City. Though, the Thunder own the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Final four games: vs. Clippers (Thurs., April 5); at Lakers (Sun., April 8); vs. Golden State (Tues., April 10); at Portland (Wed., April 11)

No. 5 seed

The San Antonio Spurs lost to the Lakers and that helps the Thunder. While San Antonio owns the tiebreaker with the Thunder based off conference record, the Spurs and the Thunder have equal records at 45-34.

Final three games: vs. Portland (Sat., April 7); vs. Sacramento (Mon., April 9); at NOLA (Wed., April 11)

No. 6 seed

Oklahoma City is here, tied with the Spurs at 45-34 with three games remaining. Oklahoma City doesn’t play again until Saturday.

Final three games: at Houston (Sat., April 7); at Miami (Mon., April 9); vs. Memphis (Wed., April 11).

No. 7 seed

The Minnesota Timberwolves (44-34) are sitting here, a half-game back of the Thunder. Minnesota owns the tiebreaker and they own the inside track to a higher seed over the Thunder due to having a game in hand. If Oklahoma City and Minnesota both win out, the T-Wolves get the tiebreaker.

Final four games: at Denver (Thurs., April 5); vs. Lakers (Fri., April 6); vs. Memphis (Mon., April 9) vs. Denver (Wed., April 11)

No. 8 seed

The New Orleans Pelicans won on Thursday night. They’re a half-game back of the Thunder and a full game back of the Jazz. New Orleans owns the tiebreaker against Oklahoma City. Utah owns the tiebreaker against the Pelicans.

Final four games: at Phoenix (Fri., April 6); at Warriors (Sat., April 7); at Clippers (Mon., April 9); vs. Spurs (Wed., April 11)

Outside looking in

Denver (43-35)

Denver is 1½ games back of the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s magic number over the Nuggets is two. Denver is hot. They’ve won three straight and own the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Thunder.

Final four games: vs. Minnesota (Thurs., April 5); at LA Clippers (Sat., April 7); vs. Portland (Mon., April 9); at Minnesota (Wed., April 11)

LA Clippers (42-36)

With four games to go, Oklahoma City owns a slim 2½-game advantage over the Clippers. LA needs to win out and get some help from the Thunder if they ever want to reach Oklahoma City’s point. This one is probably out of reach for the Clippers. Oklahoma City’s only threat is Denver.

Final four games: vs. Minnesota (Thurs., April 5); at LA Clippers (Sat., April 7); vs. Portland (Mon., April 9); at Minnesota (Wed., April 11)

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Thunder Game Day No. 64: at Phoenix Suns

Oklahoma City Thunder (36-27, 15-17 away)

at

Phoenix Suns (19-44, 9-23 home)

Friday, March 2 :: 8:00 p.m. CST ::Talking Stick Resort Arena (18,422)
TV Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27)
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 7½-point favorite. The over/under is 226.
Online Stream: Fox Sports Go | WWLS Sports AnimalLive Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Suns: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • Oklahoma City takes their three-game winning streak to the desert to take on the Phoenix Suns.
  • The Suns have been a thorn in the side of the Thunder going back to 2013. Since then, Oklahoma City is 2-6 in Phoenix and have lost three straight.
  • While the Thunder haven’t been impressive in their wins, close wins over bad teams, the Thunder still have those wins and that matters as every team wins.
  • The Suns beat the Grizzlies on Wednesday night to end their 10-game win streak.
  • Oklahoma City and Phoenix split their series last year, 2-2, both teams winning all games on their home courts.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).

SCOUTING THE SUNS

  • The Phoenix Suns are 19-44 on the season, 14th in the Western Conference.
  • While Phoenix is 1-9 in their last 10 games, they just ended a 10-game losing streak.
  • Phoenix beat the Memphis Grizzlies 110-102 on Wednesday night for their first win since January.
  • The Suns are 5-20 since Jan. 1.
  • Oklahoma City is trailing the series with the Suns 127-106 all-time.
  • The Thunder are 13-4 against the Suns since relocation.
  • Oklahoma City is 8-8 in Phoenix over that span.
  • The Suns won the first meeting of the season on Jan. 7 in Phoenix. The Suns beat the Thunder 114-100.
  • INJURY REPORT:
    Tyson Chandler (neck) is out.
    Brandon Knight (knee) is out.
    Alan Williams (knee)
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Phoenix came on Feb. 8, 213, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 127-96 (31-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (22 points) vs. the Suns occurred during a 140-118 loss on Feb. 20, 2009.

THUNDER INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson (ruptured patellar tendon) is out for the season.

NEXT UP

  • Oklahoma City travels to the Rose Garden tomorrow before playing the Rockets on Tuesday night.
  • Then, the Thunder play the Suns at home and the Spurs the following Saturday

WHAT’S IN A SUNS NAME

  • General manager Jerry Colangelo, only 28 at the time, settled on a name for his expansion franchise using a name-the-team contest in 1968.
  • Colangelo chose Suns over Scorpions, Rattlers, and Thunderbirds, among the other suggestions included in the 28,000 entries.
  • One lucky fan won $1,000 and season tickets as part of the contest, which included such obscure entries as White Wing Doves, Sun Lovers, Poobahs, Dudes, and Cactus Giants.



Three Keys to the Game

Three-pointers

The Suns, for all of their failures this season, when they make some threes, they can be tough to beat. They’re 11-11 when the Suns make more threes than their opponent. The Thunder are 16-7 when they out-shoot an opponent. It’s from three. The Thunder will have to keep the Suns at bay. In their previous game, the Suns made double what the Thunder made.

Rebounding

Rebounding is so imperative to the Thunder. Oklahoma City is 26-10 this season when they out rebound their opponents. Oklahoma City though, a poor 10-17 when they don’t. It’s like the three-point shooting. Oklahoma City was out rebounded by the Suns, and that contributed to the loss. They have to do a better job tonight.

Turnovers

Oklahoma City needs to figure out their turnover situation. They’re averaging 17.3 turnovers per game since the All-Star Break (25th). The Suns are getting out into transition more than ever since the break, scoring 22 points per game on the break. Oklahoma City cuts down the turnovers and the Suns cannot get out on the break, they’ll win.

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