If you’re frustrated after this one, I absolutely don’t blame you. If you threw a few things across your living room and are regretting it right now as you look at a broken lamp, I’m sure your wife/husband will understand. Just show them the tape of this game.
If you didn’t have time for that, you could just show them a few choice possessions. How about:
- Kevin Durant’s ridiculous game-tying attempt from outside of the arena
- One of the Grizzlies 600 offensive rebounds
- One of the 600 times a Thunder player had his hands on the ball only to lose it
- One of Jeff Green’s rebounds — wait a second, that’s not possible because he didn’t get one
Really, I could go on. When the Thunder needed a stop, they fouled late in the clock. (Or Tony Allen, who couldn’t make a freaking layup, knocked down a lucky 3 at the buzzer.) When the Thunder needed a bucket, it was a scrambled possession most times resulting in a long jumper. When the Thunder needed a rebound, they tipped it all over the place but never got it.
But let’s talk about KD’s 30-footer to try and tie the game. On the face, I don’t hate the shot. We’ve seen Durant nail that before and with 15 seconds left, I felt like the Thunder needed to take a 3 to tie there. Going for two would’ve been fine, but without a timeout it would’ve put the Thunder in a tough spot.
But what that attempt basically said was that KD didn’t trust his teammates. There’s a fine line between wanting to be The Man and not trusting teammates. I felt like that shot leaned toward the former. I want Durant taking a 3 to tie. You want Durant taking a 3 to tie. Everyone wants Durant taking a 3 to tie. I love that he put it on himself there, but at the same time, a better shot could’ve been had. He still could’ve been the man to take it, but it just might’ve come four seconds later. Instead of passing it off to a teammate to either defer to someone else or maybe work for a better look, KD totally settled. If it drops, what a shot. But instead it didn’t catch any iron and we were all left throwing things across our living room.
However, the game wasn’t lost there. Durant was pretty excellent in keeping OKC close with two huge jumpers late and 10 in the fourth quarter. Again, no direct blame on KD here because he was good. Russell Westbrook was great with 28 points and seven assists and only one turnover. The offense scored the ball well enough with the team shooting 51 percent from the field. This game was about the glass and extra possessions for Memphis. The Thunder only had three offensive rebounds total and didn’t register their first one until the second half. The Grizzlies had 12 (which isn’t really a ridiculously high number, but compared to just three, is). Memphis took eight more shots than OKC as a direct result of their work on the glass. The Thunder didn’t get extra looks. Memphis did. Simple difference in the game.
It’s honestly not worth pointing fingers here. The team didn’t rebound well. Scott Brooks went with a big lineup in the fourth playing Durant at shooting guard with Westbrook, Green, Collison and Ibaka (until Ibaka fouled out, which Nenad Krstic entered). James Harden, who was terrific, sat virtually the entire quarter. I don’t necessarily disagree with the move because the Thunder was scoring the ball well enough, they just couldn’t rebounds and get stops. Common sense says put bigger players on the floor, but clearly those players didn’t get the job done. Collison had a number of rebounds slip through his hands. Again, Green didn’t grab one freaking rebound. Ibaka only had four. The team just didn’t get the job done and it’s pretty much why they lost.
- Having said that, Harden played almost too good to sit. He was 6-7 from the field and 3-3 from 3 with 17 points. He was absolutely stellar in every way. His defense was good, his energy great and really, was the reason this thing stayed close throughout. Even despite a tough matchup, I think I’d rather have Harden on the floor late there than Green. That being a wonderful hindsight call on my part of course. I love that luxury.
- Uncle Jeff is just killing us right now. In a game-high 42 minutes he went 1-5 from the floor, scored eight points and didn’t register a rebound. I’m firmly on the Jeff Green fan train but there’s no denying that he stunk in this one.
- Zach Randolph almost had a double-double in the first quarter. He finished 31 points and 16 rebounds and before you yell at Uncle Jeff for it, most of this came against Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison. Randolph is just a natural rebounder. He had probably 6-8 rebounds on tips alone. Which kills me. Just go get the ball. Jump up and grab it. Go after it. Don’t let a guy stand there flat-footed and tip it over and over. It sucks that our most aggressive rebounder is a 6-4 point guard.
- Rudy Gay dropped 27 on 12-18 shooting. Can someone explain to me how he doesn’t average 25-28 points a game? He seems so unstoppable. OKC tried Durant on him, then tried Thabo, then tried Green and then went back to Durant. Nobody really had the cover because Gay is good.
- Watching a game being played in Memphis just seems so boring. Not only is no one there, but those people are quiet.
- Two things Harden is quietly awesome at: 1) hitting and-one 3-pointers and 2) slapping the ball away. His hands are really quick. His improvement as an all-around defender has been tremendous.
- One more time: Dang, that was frustrating.
- OKC is now 10-2 after a loss.
- KD turned the ball over six times. Sometimes it just doesn’t seem like he values possessions. He can be a little careless trying to force a fancy pass or just with the handle. A small quibble in his overall outstanding game, but something that hurt OKC tonight.
Life goes on, but sometimes one loss lingers a little more than others. From the opening tip it looked like the Thunder was missing a little fire and as a result, lost to a Memphis team that isn’t as good as them. It’s only the second two-loss streak of the season which is great, but with Dallas ahead next, we could be looking at a three-game skid for the first time. There’s really no good excuse for losing this game. It was ugly. It was bad. It was frustrating. Getting beat when you don’t do things you should like play defense and rebound is something that should bother you. Hopefully it does and the Thunder cranks it up Thursday against the Mavs.
Next up: At Dallas Thursday.