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Grizzlies 94, Thunder 88

by Darnell Mayberry Published: April 3, 2012

Nuggets from my notebook from Monday’s loss to Memphis.

  • Three things killed the Thunder tonight: turnovers, defensive rebounding and a nonexistent transition game.
  • The Thunder had 18 turnovers leading to 23 Grizzlies points.
  • The Thunder gave up 14 offensive rebounds, leading to 16 Grizzlies points.
  • And the Thunder scored a season-low two fast-break points. Two!
  • The previous season low in fast-break points was five, set against Portland on March 18. The Thunder won that game with lights-out shooting from 3-point range, making 11 of 18 from deep.
  • Here’s how bad it was for the Thunder in those three categories tonight. In the first half, the Grizzlies had 10 offensive boards and converted them into 12 points, the Thunder had 12 turnovers leading to 16 points and OKC had yet to score a single fast-break bucket. Ouch!
  •  Thunder coach Scott Brooks said his team was out of sync offensively tonight. “They did a good job,” Brooks said of the Grizzlies. “They got back and they made us play in the half court.”
  • The lone fast-break points came with 39.2 seconds left…on a pair free throws by Russell Westbrook!
  • If I was a Thunder fan I’d be very, very worried about meeting Memphis again in the playoffs. The Grizzlies don’t back down and they don’t go away. And Memphis’ contrasting style that combines paint points and physical punishment is a perfect recipe to oust the Thunder. Plus, not only are the Grizzlies great defensively but they also play with poise that young teams rarely exhibit. It would be another scintillating series. But this time, I’m not so sure the Thunder could get past them.
  • The Grizzlies started Tony Allen on Westbrook and put Jeremy Pargo (filling in for an injured Mike Conley) on Thabo Sefolosha. It’s nothing new. We’ve seen it before. But I thought that one cross matchup explained a lot about the Thunder’s offense tonight. The Thunder missed some great looks early, but Allen helped disrupt OKC’s offense from the start. Westbrook was 1-for-5 from the field in the first quarter. By comparison, he was 5-for-6 from the floor in the opening period Sunday against Chicago.
  • Through three quarters, Westbrook was 2-for-12. With him saddled, the Thunder’s offense was terrible.
  • Now would probably be a good time to alert you to Westbrook and Kevin Durant responding to Skip Bayless. Durant in that response: “We’re worse when I take more shots.” Worth noting that Durant took 20 shots to Westbrook’s 16 tonight.
  • Throw in missed free throws as one of the many culprits for tonight’s loss. The Thunder made just 17 of 24, an uncharacteristically-low 70.8 percent.
  • Daequan Cook is back. He was available to play tonight but Brooks opted to go with the nine-man rotation again. Brooks said he’ll proceed with Cook the same way he did with Sefolosha and ease him back into the mix.
  • For the second straight game, Brooks started the second quarter with Sefolosha in the lineup. He said he’s searching for minutes for Sefolosha. We’ll have to monitor how that is handled from here. That could be bad news for Cook. It’s possible that Brooks decides to shorten his rotation and go back to a nine-man rotation.
  • Say goodbye to the six-game winning streak. The Thunder had a shot to tie its season-long seven game streak and move into first place in the league with Chicago losing tonight. So much for that.
  • How on earth did Jazzercise become a halftime “act” or “show?” I’m begging someone, anyone, to explain it to me.
  • We’ve seen more physical games between these two teams. But a combined 37 fouls, 48 free throws and three technical fouls paints the picture of just how testy this one was.
  • You know it’s intense when Brooks gets T’d up. It was his third this season.
  • Speaking of techs. Kendrick Perkins got one rescinded. It was the one he got at Staples Center against the Lakers last week. He now has 11 again. That’s official.
  • And speaking of Perk, something must be seriously brewing between him and Marc Gasol. On the Grizzlies’ first possession, Gasol drained a tough turnaround jumper over Perk and then immediately started talking smack directly to Perk as the two went the other way. And when they got to about the foul line at the other end, they exchanged a nice shoulder-to-chest bump.
  • I swear Marreese Speights was talking big-time noise to Perk, too. I can’t even repeat what I thought I heard Speights call Perk. It was enough for a brawl to break out. And I was pleasantly surprised at Perk’s restraint. You can see that he’s clearly mindful of his tech count. On several occasions tonight, he just walked away from conflict.
  • If you’re wondering what’s up with Westbrook’s right arm (someone on Twitter said it looks like a dog got a hold of him), he told me those cuts are courtesy of Ramon Sessions, who scratched him all up in that last Lakers game.
  • Hey, Derek Fisher, drive the ball!!!
  • I’ve been screaming for Fish to drive it for the last few days because he can’t buy a jumper right now. And when he did drive the ball once late in the third quarter, he created a wide open baseline jumper for Nick Collison. Simple basketball.
  • Again, I loved Collison’s effort on Zach Randolph. He’s a tough, tough guy to stop. But Collison bodies up so close to Z-Bo that he doesn’t let him survey the court with those jabs that he likes. Very impressive work by Collison.
  • Although I do believe Lionel Hollins has the stones to do it, I doubt Randolph would go for it. But how much better would Memphis be if Randolph came off the bench permanently? He’d abuse most second string big men and make the Grizzlies that much tougher to defend. Maybe that already is the plan and I just don’t know it.
  • James Harden had his way tonight. He was scoring and setting up plays out of the two-man game with Collison, getting to the basket off ball screens and rebounding well. Didn’t care too much for his defense, though.
  • As you know, the Thunder is pretty good in bounce-back games. But the next one is in Miami. Tough, tough place to play. The Thunder has had only one losing streak all season, a mere two-game skid. Miami is 21-2 at home. Something’s gotta give.
  • Up next. At Miami on Wednesday.

-DM-

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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