Though the Memphis Grizzlies (now 24-17) kept things interesting late, the Oklahoma City Thunder (now 24-16) pulled away at home to contain Memphis’s winning “streak” to just two games. The final margin was 103-95, much of that coming as a direct result of MVP candidate and genetic super-freak Russell Westbrook’s 18th triple-double of the season.
Despite shooting a paltry 31.6% from the floor and having 6 turnovers, Westbrook poured in 24 total points (thanks largely to 12-of-15 made free throws), 13 rebounds, 12 assists, 2 steals and a block. Memphis’s free-throw shooting (and, if you want to go there, some favorable foul-calling by the refs in OKC’s building) didn’t help matters, as the entire team made just 12 of 21 attempts (57.8%), compared to the Thunder’s 23-of-29 (79.3%) performance from the charity stripe. That’s an 11-point swing.
Marc Gasol: C
Enes Kanter had some impressive post play against Gasol, though Kanter was just having one of those nights in general, making some tough floaters against some capable Gasol and Zach Randolph defense (more on this in a bit). Overall, Big Spain had 9 points (on 4-of-12 shooting), 7 rebounds, and a typically great 7 assists in 36 minutes.
Tony Allen: C
TA went just 1-of-5 from the field (and took no free throws) for 2 points in 22 minutes. He had 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and his mark, Victor Oladipo, broke free for 16 points on 5-for-10 shooting. But Allen still had a +3 plus-minus rating, tied with Troy Daniels for tops on the team! That stat needs work.
Mike Conley: B-
Mike Conley didn’t get a field goal until five minutes had passed in the second period. Not great when for a national TV game as you continue to make a legit bid for your first All-Star Game. Conley was 8-for-20 on the night (but 3-of-7 from deep!), which one can’t call particularly impressive. That being said, it was mainly due to strong fourth-period efforts from Conley and Randolph that Memphis was in the game at all late. His defense on Westbrook was good, too, as he bothered the perennial All-Star into that 6-for-19 shooting night. He had 22 points (and was the only Grizz player to score more than 14 points), 6 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals.
JaMychal Green: B-
JaMychal Green had a couple sweet athletic plays leading to layups at the bottom of the second quarter... and then never scored again, ultimately going 2-of-10 from the field. Perhaps he’s still mourning alma matter Alabama’s surprise defeat at the hands of Clemson on Monday? Green’s field goal completion percentage on the season is a 45.2%, not as bad as last night’s 40%, but still fairly low considering how many of his shots are so close to the rim (41.6% of all his field goal looks are within three feet, according to Basketball-Reference). To be fair, he takes two three-point attempts a night (representing 28.6% of his total offensive output), and converts them at a solid 35.4% rate — but Green missed his all three of his long-range attempts last night.
Chandler Parsons: B-
Parsons, still on a minutes restriction (he would play just 18 minutes) beat his season-high tonight, scoring 14 points on a combination of tough step-back jumpers, ballsy triples, and pretty layups. He had a good offensive game going in the first half of action, though he occasionally got stuck covering faster guards in transition — at one point he ignored a wide-open Victor Oladipo trey, at another juncture Parsons got caught behind a screen trying to cut off Westbrook on the left side of the three-point arc.
But anyway, back to the good stuff. Parsons was the only starter to shoot over 40%, let alone the only starter to shoot over 50% from the field (he shot 58.3%, making 7 of 12 looks)! He notched no rebounds and no assists, and missed all three of his tries from deep, but his scoring seems to be getting there, and that’s an encouraging sign.
Zach Randolph: B-
The future Sixth Man Of The Year (assuming Eric Gordon misses 20 games, as is his wont) posted another efficient night on offense, though he had trouble containing Enes Kanter, whose jumper was on tonight. The mustachioed Turk, like Z-Bo an offensive-oriented bench big (though the 6’11” Kanter splits his minutes between power forward and center), sprung loose for 19 points (on 8-of-18 shooting), 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 4 turnovers and a +10 plus-minus rating in just 18 minutes of play.
Randolph, meanwhile, had 14 points (on 6-of-13 shooting), 9 rebounds (5 defensive), 1 assist, and 4 turnovers of his own in 26 minutes, nabbing just a -6 plus-minus rating. Randolph’s late-game offense (including two nice floaters in the lane and a crafty long jumper from just inside the right wing that closed the gap to a 2-point OKC advantage with a few minutes to go) helped keep the game close in the fourth quarter.
Three bench contributors had 10+ points, so that’s something. Outside of Randolph, Vince Carter gave Memphis 29 okay minutes, making 3-of-4 three-pointers and knocking down to free throws (out of four, though, which is.. not very Vinsanity-like) to chip in 11 points, playing decent veteran defense, and yet still posting a putrid -18 plus-minus on the floor. James Ennis contributed 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, but Troy Daniels and Andrew Harrison combined for 9 points on a miserable 3-for-9 shooting night.
A caveat on Daniels: he sat the entirety of the first three quarters, his 9 minutes logged came entirely in the fourth quarter, so it’s hard to expect him to be completely in-rhythm. He had an embarrassing frantic pass to Conley picked off by Westbrook, who subsequently sprinted out for a monster dunk.