Feb 3, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives to the basket in front of Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) during the third quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
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The OKC Thunder were able to stave off a strong Grizzlies third quarter to beat Memphis 114-102.
I don’t think I mentally could have handled another four-game losing streak. Especially the way the Thunder played in the first half-or at least the last 18 minutes of the half.
Oklahoma City took a 10-point lead into halftime behind a strong overall team performance. They scored 32 of their 58 points in the paint, shot 6-12 from three and Russell Westbrook only took 6 shots. It was pure team basketball.
But than everything fell apart in the third quarter.
Marc Gasol absolutely dominated Steven Adams down low which opened up cutting lanes and open threes for the Grizzlies. They finished 11-14 from the field, 2-4 from three; Gasol scored 10 on 5-6 shooting and assisted on two other baskets. Gasol finished the game with 31 points, 4 rebounds and 8 assists. By the end of the quarter, a 10-point Thunder lead had turned into a 2-point Memphis lead.
The fourth quarter began the same way, with Memphis slowly adding onto their lead. But then Russ subbed in with 8:44 left. The teams battled for the next six minutes until Westbrook drew a foul on Tony Allen. Russ came out the media timeout and proceeded to hit all three free throws, tying the game at 102.
That’s right folks. The Thunder ended this game on a 15-0 run. But it gets better.
Enes Kanter who? Joffrey Lauvergne ended his 29 minutes of playing time with 16 points on 6-7 shooting and 8 rebounds. Lauvergne doesn’t bring the abundance of talent that Kanter has, but King Joffrey has the same skills. Plus he actually has some semblance of a three-point shot; he hit 3-4 tonight. AND Joffrey tied Russ for the highest +/- with a +17.
Cameron Payne silenced the detractors tonight and it makes me so happy. Payne had a couple highlight-reel moves tonight that was honestly confused. We’re not used to seeing someone other than Russ get to the basket like that. Oh and he added 9 points on 4-7 shooting. Patience people.
Even Anthony Morrow found his shooting touch tonight. Morrow scored 15 points including 3-4 from deep, making us forget about Alex Abrines for one more game.
Obviously it was for a reason, but nothing exactly made his head whip like that. But I enjoyed seeing Grit like that in a must-needed victory.
The reason for the solid shooting performance tonight had nothing to do with the Thunder being particularly on fire. They were just shooting good shots. Nobody was forcing contested threes until Westbrook at the end, but those went in so it’s okay. They aren’t going to shoot 50% every night, but when they are quality shots it will be a much better rate.
Domantas Sabonis got absolutely overwhelmed tonight. The rookie only played 11 minutes but he turned the ball over 5 times. I like the aggressiveness, but it has to be contained.
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The win pulls the Thunder within a half game of the Grizzlies for sixth place in the West. Next up is a visit from the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday. Don’t worry folks, tipoff is scheduled for 2 pm central time so the Super Bowl will not be missed.