Grizzlies 110, Thunder 105
Nuggets from my notebook from Tuesday’s loss at Memphis.
- James Harden had one of the best games I’ve ever seen from him tonight. He was great offensively, hitting his shots without hesitation and setting up his teammates a few times for easy scores. And he was pretty solid defensively as well. The play that he stopped Tony Allen and Sam Young within seconds highlighted his night defensively.
- Harden has now scored at least 10 points in 12 straight games. That’s a career best. Harden has scored double digits in 17 of his past 20 games. It suggests the second-year guard is becoming consistent, which I’ll have more on in Thursday’s paper.
- I kept one eye on the stat monitor during this one to keep track of how long it would take for Rudy Gay and Jeff Green to each pull down their first rebound. It took Gay 28 minutes. Green’s never came.
- This was as poor of a game as I’ve seen Green play. Typically, he’s solid in something. Tonight, he stunk at everything. He couldn’t defend Zach Randolph. He couldn’t make a shot. And he didn’t set up anything offensively for his teammates. Green’s first (and only) field goal came with 10:54 left to play. The best thing Green did tonight was go 6-for-6 from the charity stripe.
- As the minutes went on, I was like a lot of Thunder fans probably were watching at home, thinking to myself why doesn’t coach Scott Brooks put in Serge Ibaka. Green was struggling so much and clearly too small for Randolph that it seemed like a natural move. But it never happened. Randolph finished with 31 points and 16 rebounds, both game highs.
- Something else that stood out was eight minutes in the second half despite playing near flawlessly in the first half. Brooks said he opted to use a big lineup late in the game to try to get control of the rebounding game.
- Give the Thunder credit for this. In the fourth quarter, the defense on Randolph really picked up. Nenad Krstic, Nick Collison, Green and Ibaka really tag-teamed Randolph. They fronted, flashed over, dug down and pushed back. Hardly any of it was enough. Randolph still found a way to be effective. The guy had it going tonight, and on nights like that there is not much you can do.
- By my count, Allen missed four layups in this one. One was a fast break that left him all by his lonesome. What made it comical was Allen had his tongue hanging out like Michael Jordan before botching the easy bucket. Allen’s misses and mistakes in general were keeping the Thunder in it for a stretch.
- Then Allen made two deflating 3-pointers in the final 6 1/2 minutes, including one at the shot clock buzzer that put the Griz ahead five with 1:21 left. Allen came into the game shooting 1-for-4 from behind the 3-point line…And those two 3s were the only two for the game for the Grizzlies.
- Collison took another charge tonight.
- I have no idea why, but Marc Gasol is quite fond of shooting and dunking a towel during timeouts.
- Good bounce-back game for Russell Westbrook after his season-low eight points Saturday at San Antonio. The only questionable thing Westbrook did in this one was take a few rushed pull-up jumpers late.
- The Grizzlies’ 13-2 run late in the third period was almost back-breaking.
- This is probably a game the Thunder should have had. But the Grizzlies are an underrated team. Memphis is coming off a blowout win against the Lakers, the second time it has beaten the champs this season. And the Grizzlies also have defeated Dallas, Miami, Portland and Phoenix (twice).
- Should the Thunder trade for Hasheem Thabeet? Say his sucks all you want. But that kind of size, length and shot-blocking has to have some kind of impact. Doesn’t it?
- After giving up 60 paint points to the Spurs, the Thunder allowed 54 tonight. But this time it went both ways. The Thunder scored 46 points in the paint, and the game looked like a layup drill for much of the night.
- Somehow, the Thunder has got to get back to passing the ball. Since the season-high 31 assists against New Jersey, the Thunder dished out 20 against the Hawks, a season-low tying 10 against the Spurs and 18 tonight. OKC is 12-2 when it has more assists than its opponent.
- Something tells me the Thunder will come out and play well against Dallas. Caron Butler is obviously lost for the season, and Dirk Nowitzki might not play either because of injury. And those absences will definitely help. But it’s a TNT game, and I think these young guys want to perform on the big stage. It’s going to be a good test even with the Mavs ailing. The Thunder has enough of its own issues to overcome, and Dallas is still dangerous enough to expose the Thunder.
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