While this was not Westbrook’s most efficient night from a scoring standpoint- he shot only 6-for-19 from the floor- he was able to create for others and have some teammates step up big to make up for those shooting struggles.
This game was a showdown between two very good teams. It was competitive, and featured several good position battles. But the Thunder had a firm grasp on this game for a majority of the contest, with the inconsistency of the Memphis offense rearing its ugly head once again, as they fell to the Thunder by a score of 103-95.
Conley vs. Westbrook
Yes, Westbrook won this battle. But this was still a nice duel between two fine point guards.
Mike Conley had himself a very solid game in this one. He finished with 22 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals, while shooting 40% from the floor. Conley was also able to knock down three of his seven 3-point attempts.
But Westbrook was in control of this game.
We mentioned his shooting struggles, but he still carried the Thunder on his back. Westbrook finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists. The Grizzlies did a good job of preventing him from scoring, and they completely neutralized his perimeter shooting as he went 0-for-7 from deep.
But Westbrook’s ability to set up his teammates was terrific, and the role of the supporting cast was a big decider in this game. Largely because Westbrook’s teammates outplayed Conley’s.
Conley did not do a bad job of helping his teammates, but they just struggled to knock down shots.
The Supporting Casts
Outside of Conley, the Grizzly offense was ice cold.
Marc Gasol was thoroughly outplayed by Steven Adams in this game. Gasol finished with only 9 points on 4-of-12 shooting and could not get going on Adams’ great defense. The Spaniard did well in other areas, registering 7 boards, 7 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks, but his scoring was sorely needed in this game.
The second-leading scorers for Memphis were Zach Randolph and Chandler Parsons, who each had 14 points.
Parsons shot 7-of-12 from the field, but was very one-dimensional. He had no rebounds or assists, and did not connect on any three-point attempts. Z-Bo was solid in this game. Along with his points, he grabbed 9 rebounds. This was a typical day at the office for Randolph. His role was played, just not many others did theirs.
Vince Carter (11 points) and James Ennis (10 points) each provided some solid bench scoring, themselves. Ennis and Conley combined to hit six of Memphis’ seven 3-pointers, and were the only adequate outside shooters in this game.
Memphis got dud scoring nights from Tony Allen (2 points, 1-of-5 shooting), JaMychal Green (4 points, 2-of-10 shooting), and Troy Daniels (3 points, 1-of-4) on a night where they could not get much going offensively.
The Memphis offense was pretty stale throughout the night. It looked like the messy Grizzly offense of old, with little ball movement and poor perimeter shooting.
The Thunder had good games from several players. Enes Kanter (19 points, 13 rebounds), Steven Adams (12 points, 8 boards, 2 blocks), and Victor Oladipo (16 points) all stepped up to score, and defend in Adams’ and Oladipo’s cases, well to help their team win.
The Grizzlies are officially half way through their season.
Sitting at a 24-17 record, the team seems to be in a very good place as they are just a half game outside of the five seed in the Western Conference. Especially given their struggles with injuries, this should be viewed as a successful first half. Memphis does not look to be an easy out for anyone, especially come playoff time.
But next, the Grizzlies will travel to Houston on Friday night to meet another MVP frontrunner.
Against the Rockets and James Harden, you have to score points. If the Grizzlies play like they did in OKC on Wednesday night, they will lose this game. They need to beat up the Rockets physically in order to pull out the win. And it would be a big one.