The Grizzlies came out stagnant to open up their first preseason game on the road, but were quick to turn it around as they picked up the win against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Memphis saw a different starting lineup this time around, as Vince Carter and Troy Williams drew the start for Coach Fizdale, who may just be fiddling with the line-up because, well...because it’s preseason.
The Grizzlies were ice cold to start the game, shooting just 33.3% from the field after the first quarter. For the Thunder, it was quite the opposite, as OKC came out shooting 56.3% from the field (9-16) and 75% from behind the arc, knocking down six of their first eight attempts from distance. Westbrook was very aggressive early for the Thunder as he helped OKC to a 31-17 advantage after the first quarter with 10 points and three assists. JaMychal led the Grizz with four points and three boards after one.
After coming out flat-footed, Memphis picked up the pace in the second quarter, but more importantly, they picked up their defense. The Grizzlies forced nine Thunder turnovers in the second quarter alone, which led to many easy buckets for the boys in blue. The three also started to fall for Memphis and more specifically, for Marc Gasol. Fizdale, who said he wants Marc shooting around four threes a game, has to be happy with what he saw tonight, as Gasol drained three of his five attempts from downtown.
The Grizzlies were much more aggressive in the second quarter, which led to a lot of trips to the free throw line. Memphis took advantage of the easy ones as they hit 15-19 from the charity stripe before halftime. The Grizzlies outscored the Thunder 41-21 overall in the second quarter and took a 58-52 lead into the half. Gasol led the way for Memphis with 16 points and six boards while Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 17 points and four assists.
Coming out of the intermission, the Grizzlies didn’t look like they missed a beat. Memphis forced another eight turnovers in the third, which again led to easy fast-break opportunities for the Grizzlies. Mike Conley started to heat up a bit as well, scoring 10 in the quarter alone, and Gasol was able to find the range again for his third triple of the game during the third quarter. For the Thunder, Westbrook was done by halftime, and Oladipo really struggled to find his shot as he was just 1-6 from the field after three. Singler and Abrines were the lone bright spots for OKC, as they were both shooting the lights out from behind the arc. The Grizzlies took an 84-74 lead into the fourth though as Gasol led with 19 points and six boards.
The fourth quarter was all Grizzlies again as the Memphis defense continued to cause problems for the Thunder. Memphis forced 28 Thunder turnovers by the end of the game which led to 37 points for the Grizz. The Grizzlies also hit 10 threes, shooting 43.5% from downtown and more importantly, Memphis hit their free throws. Memphis was much more aggressive after their sloppy first quarter and ended up attempting 44 free throws by the game’s end. The Grizzlies did get out-rebounded 36-46 but Memphis won the points in the paint battle with 36 points over the Thunder’s 24.
The Grizzlies couldn’t slow down Kyle Singler or Alex Abrines though, as they combined for an absurd 10-12 from distance. Abrines led the Thunder with 19 points off the bench and Singler threw in 15 as well. During the end of the game it was the Grizzlies’ Andrew Harrison who got things going with back to back triples, and Z-Bo - who played extended minutes - hit a couple of his patented mid-range jumpers to extend the lead.
Memphis ended up coming away with a 110-94 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. It should be noted the Grizzlies were once again without Tony Allen, Chandler Parsons, Deyonta Davis, Brandan Wright, Jordan Adams, and Jarell Martin. Marc Gasol led the way with 21 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Mike Conley also added 19 points and seven assists, and Z-Bo put up 12 points and eight boards off the bench. For the Thunder it was Alex Abrines who led the team in scoring with 19 off the bench as Westbrook put up 17 points in just one half of play.
The Grizzlies travel to Houston, Saturday 10/15, to take on the Rockets for more preseason action at 7pm CT.