The Memphis Grizzlies fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder in preseason action tonight, 117-107. In classic preseason style, both teams held out a bunch of the familiar faces that we've grown accustomed to seeing in this matchup. Among those that didn't play: Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, and Zach Randolph for the Grizzlies, and Kevin Durant (missing his first game after the foot injury that will sideline him for 6-8 weeks), Serge Ibaka, and Reggie Jackson for the Thunder.
That left the likes of Quincy Pondexter and Steven Adams to duke it out. Oh, and a guy named Russell Westbrook, too. The Grizzlies became the first team to get a glimpse of a Durant-less Thunder team, and unsurprisingly, it featured a lot of Westbrook. He racked up 14 points and 12 assists in 26 minutes before Thunder coach Scott Brooks pulled him for good in the third quarter. Just as impactful was Adams, who surprisingly recorded 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting and overpowered Kosta Koufos (not a pushover!) time and time again down low for impressive scores.
Adams was the one who chopped down a Grizzlies lead that had held stable for much of the first half. The Thunder trailed 47-38 with 6:13 remaining in the second quarter, before Adams scored 12 consecutive Thunder points and sparked a run that got the Thunder back in the game. At halftime the Thunder led 60-59, and they never gave up the lead again. The pair of Westbrook and Adams kept rolling into the second half, with Westbrook ultimately assisting on six of Adams' nine makes from the field.
Despite the loss, an encouraging sign for the Grizzlies was the play of Pondexter and Jordan Adams. Pondexter led the team with 16 points, shooting 4-of-9 from the floor and 3-of-5 from three. After an underwhelming first half, Pondexter came out in the second visibly more determined, and scored four more points in the second half than he did in the first despite playing six fewer minutes. If Dave Joerger really plans to start Pondexter as some speculation goes, then performances like these help cement his standing.
As for the Grizzlies' Adams, the rookie scored 13 points in 24 minutes. He made his first four shots of the game and shot 6-of-11 overall. For good measure, he also recorded six rebounds and threw in a three-pointer. If Adams can continue to impress, the chance of him securing a rotation role (and making one of the veterans in the Grizzlies' glut of swingmen expendable) will keep increasing. Entering tonight's game, he had only been averaging 6.7 points on 29.4% shooting through three preseason games.
This loss drops the Grizzlies to 1-3 in the preseason. Their next game comes October 17th, when they host Brazilian team Flamengo at the FedEx Forum.