No bother for the Thunder on this back-to-back.
Helps to play a team licking its wounds from injuries, but still, 2-0 on a road back-to-back with the second night being a dominant 16-point win is impressive regardless.
Russell Westbrook bounced back from his rough shooting night against the Hawks in a big way, going for a point a minute (27 in 27 minutes), with nine assists and six rebounds. Had it not been for sitting the entire fourth, it’s pretty likely he would’ve dropped a nice triple-double. Westbrook shot the ball well (7-12, 2-5 from 3, 11-11 from the line) and sliced Memphis up all over, particularly in the first half where he had seven of his nine assists.
The Grizzlies were trying to hang around a bit in the first half, but the Thunder finished the first half on a 20-8 run, opening the game up. The interesting thing about it? The run was sparked after Perry Jones entered the game and Scott Brooks went to a lineup of Westbrook, Jones, Durant, Ibaka and Collison. I don’t know who the shooting guard was in that group (Jones? Durant? Westbrook with Durant at point guard?) but the athleticism and length of it completely flabbergasted the Grizzlies.
I’m sure the idea behind it was to create difficult matchup issues for the shorthanded Grizzlies, forcing them to use Jon Leuer or Kosta Koufos on Jones, but it wasn’t the offense that exploded. It was the defense. And thereby, the defense exploded into explosive offense. (Note: Yes, I’m a professional writer.) Deflected passes, blocked shots, long rebounds — all of it led to quick offense which included five made baskets inside of three feet. The Thunder are great in transition, but you have to create those opportunities. You can’t just manifest them by running fast. If you’re going to get into the open court, it has to start with stops, and certain kinds of them.
It was definitely nice to see Perry Jones find a little playing time and while it’s inconsistent and will probably remain as such, having him as a productive weapon to deploy is such a luxury. He was part of another tremendous bench performance that included a career-high 18 points from Jeremy Lamb (on 7-9 shooting and 3-4 from 3), 17 from Reggie Jackson, and seven points and four rebounds from Andre Roberson in his third career start (I’m counting him as part of the bench still).
The Thunder are getting kind of Spurs-ish with their ability to just throw out bench guys and find production. Like, there’s all these good players and it doesn’t matter where they were picked, but Brooks can put them in a game, and they’re ready to contribute. It’s hard to find appropriate time for them when you’ve got to have guys like Westbrook, Durant and Ibaka on the floor for extended amounts of time, but I can tell you I’m already eagerly anticipating the late April game where OKC has its seed wrapped up and the bench gets to play for almost an entire 48 minutes.
Tonight’s win doesn’t really have the vengeance feel that it should’ve because of the absence of Marc Gasol, Tony Allen and Quincy Pondexter, but it definitely was somewhat of a decent reminder of how much Westbrook would’ve helped in that series. A lot. He would’ve helped a lot.
- Steven Adams had a nasty rolled right ankle in the second half and did not return to the game. Don’t worry, The Funaki doesn’t feel pain. His ankle just needed a breather.
- Andre Roberson hit a 3! START THE PARTY. An excellent game for the rookie in Thabo’s role. He hovered all over Jerryd Bayless and while he got beat a few times off the dribble, his length really disrupted things for Memphis. He had this great stretch in the first quarter: Hit the 3, came up with a steal that led to an and-1 for KD, then went up and over Z-Bo for a rebound.
- Little thing I loved: After Roberson had that steal, he missed a layup, and Durant grabbed it and finished the and-1. But instead of celebrating it, KD immediately turned around to Roberson who was clapping his hands together in frustration to pick him up and recognize the steal and what he created. Great leadership from KD.
- I feel like it would suuuuuuuuuuck to have Andre Roberson guarding you.
- Nick Collison just straight up whips Zach Randolph. He knows every move, every counter to that move, and every counter to that counter.
- Jackson scored a quiet 17 points tonight. I think that’s the first quiet big scoring night I can remember for him. That’s a big step forward, when you can put up a line and it’s not loud.
- I’d recommend Kosta Koufos go ahead and surrender and shave his head, but I’m not sure that would really help his situation all that much. Same goes for Nick Calathes. I’m surprised the SportVU cameras at the FedEx Forum can pick up anything with all that shine coming off their heads.
- A cutting Russell Westbrook is a very good Russell Westbrook. Him and Perk hooked up a couple times on backcuts in the second half. The first wasn’t even open, but Perk put it right on the money with Mike Conley looking the wrong way.
- Was it just me or did the Grizzlies have like five straight on banked in shots? Was kind of out of hand.
- Perk was apparently feeling a little under the weather tonight. Clearly affected his play. (Do I need to say eye roll or do you guys get that one?)
- Serge Ibaka started off missing a number of open midrange looks, but found his stroke going 6-14 for 12 points wit seven rebounds. And he was a +29 in 32 minutes.
- Reggie Lamb with 35 on 13-19 shooting in 41 minutes.
- It’s hard to nitpick KD’s game anymore because he’s so darn good, but one thing that still kind of bugs me is how loose he can be with the ball at times. Sometimes he gets in a crowd and almost just seems to accept the fact he’s going to turn the ball over.
- Nobody loves to dap up Perk more than Grant Long, and he even took it so far tonight to give him credit for good things Steven Adams was doing, saying Adams learned those things from him. Yeesh.
- Adams picks up fouls for just being strong. That’s how the ref should call it. “Foul, No. 12, being stronger than everybody.”
- I can’t help but wonder how much better Lamb would be if he didn’t have to stop and yawn before each shot.
- You know who likes dribbling behind his back? Reggie Jackson likes dribbling behind his back.
- Hasheem Thabeet played. Get well soon, Funaki.
- Brian Davis Line of the Night: “The lone defender playing like the Lone Ranger!”
Next up: Lakers at home on Friday