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Full Recap: Grizzlies Outlast Oklahoma City at Home

Slow and steady won the race on Friday night as the Memphis Grizzlies turned in another signature performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder. One strong quarter gave the home team all they needed to hold out for another victory in the Forum.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into Friday night’s game, both the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies were struggling to maintain the high caliber of play for which they’re known. Both were just 1-3 in their last four and wrestling for key playoff positions. Ultimately the game was going to come down to whether or not Memphis could find enough scoring to support their signature lockdown defense. Because when Memphis’ defense is the stifling force we know it can be, all it takes is a few made shots for the Grizzlies to win games.

So what happened? Let’s just say that both teams were less than 24% from three (OKC: 23.5%, MEM: 19%) and less than 50% from the field (OKC: 40.9%, MEM: 47.5%). Memphis forced the Thunder into playing a game of Grit 'n Grind basketball and were rewarded with a 100-92 victory. Overall this was a game that only a Grizzlies fan could love, and not just because of the result. Things started "quickly" with Russell Westbrook’s 12 points giving the Thunder a 26-24 first quarter lead. Memphis’ style of play is really only lovable when they win, and at that point in the game, things were anything but lovable. The team was 0-6 from beyond the arc and had already lost the ball four times.

Thankfully the Grizzlies kicked things up a notch and won out the second quarter 31-23. The threes still weren’t falling up until Jeff Green stopped the team’s 0-9 streak by draining one of his own. He wouldn’t stop there, and Uncle Jeff put on a show-stopping second quarter, finishing a perfect 5-5 from the floor including 2 three pointers and 3 free throws. It was only fitting that Green was responsible for guarding Westbrook, as the two essentially played mirror images of one another for the first half. In the first quarter, Westbrook put the Thunder back on his back (where they’re most comfortable these days), while Green did the same for Memphis in the next quarter.

With a 55-49, lead it was up to the Grizzlies to control the tempo and therefore the game for the remaining 24 minutes. They did a solid job in the third quarter by only allowing 20 points and scoring 22 of their own - again, this was a game only a Grizzlies fan could love. A big part of why this game was so entertaining for the home crowd was seeing Marc Gasol step up again. He finished second to Jeff Green in total points with 19, but also had 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocks. It was a solid showing from the big man and displayed that energy the team desperately needs with just seven left on the schedule.

The Grizzlies kept grinding through the fourth and gave up just 23 points for a final score of 100-92. That’s the way Oklahoma City has been playing (without a defense): their team lives and dies by the offense’s success. Tonight they couldn’t get it going against the stout Grizzlies defense while also allowing the Grizz to hit their magic century number. These are the types of games that Memphis thrives upon, which is both a positive and negative. All teams will struggle to put up points at one point or another, and the fact that Memphis generally wins in those situations is definitely a positive. However, the playoffs loom and the moon is slowly turning a stronger hue of blue on the nights that opponents shoot 40% from the floor. The victory is still much needed and puts Memphis back into the coveted #2 seed aside the Houston Rockets, who do hold the tiebreaker. Whoever finishes in that spot will be slated to play the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. Finding consistent sources of offense remains the Grizzlies’ biggest homework assignment for the final stretch. If they discover that consistency, then Memphis might be making some noise in this year’s postseason.

Up next for the Grizzlies is the third game in this home stand on Saturday at 7 PM CST against the Washington Wizards.