You might not expect much from a game between an 11-34 team and a 10-35 team, but the third Oklahoma City/Memphis matchup of the season had much to recommend it in terms of sheer dynamics: the Grizzlies, seemingly hitting the bucket at will, ran up 37 points in the first quarter for a 13-point lead, and then the Thunder remembered something about defense, holding the Griz to 34 points in the next two quarters. Just to show off, Russell Westbrook hung on the rim during a fourth-quarter dunk, and drew a technical for being a wise guy. Memphis youngster O. J. Mayo, who hadn’t made much noise early on, came to life in the final frame, including drawing three fouls in rapid succession and cashing the maximum six points. And OKC’s foul shooting, so good recently, went into the old porcelain facility. Then in the last four minutes of regulation, the Griz ran off a 12-2 run to tie it at 100 and force the overtime; Memphis then got the first basket, but they wouldn’t get another for the rest of the night as the Thunder rolled up a 114-102 win.
I got the impression during the overtime that Kevin Durant was taking personal responsibility for pulling this one out, and the numbers bear it out: he got eight of his 35 points in the extra frame, along with four of ten boards, an assist and a block. Matt Pinto’s “Jeff wants three!” resounded a lot: Green hit five of six treys and finished with 23. Westbrook, acrobatics notwithstanding, scored 16. And Chucky Atkins is getting some more time: he logged 14 minutes and got 10 points, including two 3-pointers.
The Griz started out shooting at an 80-percent clip, and eventually settled down to 43.5. Rudy Gay led them with 25 points, including three long-balls; Mayo was good for 17; Mike Conley and Marc Gasol had 15 each.
The Thunder dominated some of the categories: 51.2 percent shooting, 47-38 rebounds, 9-2 blocked shots. The Griz did lead in steals, 10-8, and in fast-break points, 19-17. Official attendance was 18,450. Then again, the roads were a lot clearer tonight than they were on Monday.
After this, the Thunder hit the road: Friday at Utah, Sunday at Sacramento.