I apologize on behalf all of us. We didn't think you had this one in you. The Thunder, the best team in the Western Conference, were playing their best basketball of the season heading into last night's game. Although you won 3 of the last 4 heading into last night, they were sloppy wins against sloppy teams - teams not of Oklahoma City-caliber.
Can you blame us? Were we wrong? It's a crew led by the
Wonder Twins of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. You know we love you, but again I reiterate: you weren't playing well.
Thank you for proving us wrong. Thank you for giving us that hope we needed at the end of a pessimistic couple weeks. Now, I feel better about the Conference playoff picture.
More after the jump.
Can't believe it. The win last night is still sinking in - the fact that the Grizzlies traveled to Oklahoma City and beat the best team in the Western Conference while they were playing their best basketball is impressive. It wasn't a pretty win - the Grizzlies looked sloppy at some points, but a win is a win.
The trend in this part of recaps is becoming to be the same thing each time: the Grizzlies offense was awful. After watching the Thunder execute a 12-0, the Grizzlies were shooting only 31 percent in the first half. Though, the Grizzlies were only down 44-42 at half, imagine the score if they had shot better than 31%.
As the clock struck five minutes left, Memphis went near
ly three minutes without scoring to allow the Thunder to close within one. How'd they do that? Six straight free throws - the last four of which were hit by Westbrook.
GameThread comments at the end of the game sums it up perfectly:
Rebounding. It was mentioned in the Preview for the game that the Thunder have extreme difficulty getting wins when they are out-rebounded. Technically, the Thunder weren't out-rebounded (each team had 43 total), but they were matched. The Grizzlies also had five more offensive rebounds than Oklahoma City - rebounds that turned into points.
Rudy Gay, Tony Allen, and Marc Gasol each had 8 rebounds. Marreese Speights showed up in a big way again with a game-leading 13 rebounds (4 of which were offensive). The Speights pickup is proving itself to be one of the better transactions in the league.
Offensive Spread. The offensive boxscore to last night's game is a wondrous sight for sore eyes: there was no "standout" player. Rudy put up 12 points. Speights had 9. Gasol and Allen: 13 and 15, respectively. 10 for both Zach Randolph and Jeremy Pargo. The major offensive output was from O.J. Mayo with 22 points in shooting 5-for-5 FG with 1-4 3pt. That one 3-pointer came at a perfect time with 17 seconds left in the fourth quarter and was absolutely fantastic.
What's great about the boxscore: one could take away, lets say, the best offensive player last night (O.J. Mayo - 22 pts), and it is still a solid performance considering the opponent of the Thunder.
What does this mean for the Grizzlies?
The next five games:
against Golden State
against LA Clippers
Before last night, looking at the schedule was scary. Now, it's not that way. When looking at games against teams like Dallas and Miami, excitement is now in the place of angst. The three games against Dallas and LA Clippers are going to be critical in the Western Conference Standings picture. Get ready - the next week is do or die for the Grizz.
Player of the Game:O.J. Mayo (22 pts, Game-Deciding 3pt shot with 0:17 left)
Man of the Game: Tony Allen (15 pts, 8 rebounds; unstoppable defense)
Mind most likely to still be thinking about what it's like to be sitting on a couch: Gilbert Arenas (0 pt. 0 rebounds. 20 minutes played)