Thunder 106, Grizzlies 89
Nuggets from my notebook from Thursday’s win over the Grizzlies.
- Leave it to a Thunder-Grizzlies game to provide drama in a 17-point blowout.
- Instead of talking about a sound victory, we end up leaving this one talking about silliness on the sideline. Thanks, Russell Westbrook.
- Westbrook lost his head midway through the third quarter and nearly sparked a chain reaction that caused the Thunder to lose a 26-point lead. I didn’t see all of what happened. All I know is he was whistled for a rare five-second call while backing down his man and then blew up. Apparently, he wanted Thabo Sefolosha to cut. Westbrook then let Sefolosha know about it in a not-so-kind way. Westbrook then called his own number on the next play and took a terrible shot. On the next dead ball, Scotty Brooks yanked him. And that was that.
- On the bench, assistant coach Mo Cheeks tried to console Westbrook and calm him. It didn’t work. Wolverine needed to take a walk. Call it the loner in him. And so Westbrook stormed off into the tunnel, trying to blow off some steam.
- Westbrook returned to the bench a moment later. He started the fourth quarter and went right back to being fantastic.
- Westbrook just called the exchange with Sefolosha “a little miscommunication.”
- Brooks and everybody in the locker room defended Westbrook. No surprise there. They always do. It’d be news if they didn’t. It’d also probably be a death sentence for anybody not named Kevin Durant who did.
- Nick Collison sounded like he was practicing his lines in the mirror before defending Westbrook. As soon as he was asked about the incident, he was ready. “We lost a lot of veteran guys here. We lost Derek (Fisher). We lost Nazr (Mohammed) and Royal (Ivey). And the reason we’ve been able to keep up and go — we made a big trade earlier in the year — is because of what Russell and what Kevin have done as leaders. They’ve been great this year. They’ve grown up a lot, their voice with the team and they’ve done it with their play, too. I didn’t see what happened tonight. But I know those guys deserve a lot of credit, Russ in particular. He’s grown up a lot. We’re going to be fine. He’s had a great year.”
- Our man Berry Tramel is trying to one-up me in the nickname department. He’s got a new one for Westbrook. “Peter Pan.” Why? Because like Westbrook, Peter Pan is a mischievous boy who can fly and never grows up. I’ve got to say. It fits.
- Yup. Nearly 500 words and none of them about actual basketball. Wish tonight went a little different.
- I had a different seat than usual tonight, which was the biggest reason I didn’t see much of what took place on the bench. I was seated on the end of the scorer’s table closest to the Grizzlies bench. I noticed that the Grizzlies’ trainer wrote “WIN” in the rosin atop the scorer’s table just before tip-off. Looks to be a bit of a ritual. Another person with the Grizzlies then came and traced the letters with his fingers. It was kind of cool.
- And then Tony Allen came and ran his hands through it and smeared it all along the scorer’s table.
- Serge Ibaka got the first two shots of the game for the Thunder. They came in the first minute, 45 seconds. He attempted one more shot the rest of the night. Seems to be the story of his season at this point.
- Westbrook was actually great tonight. He was talking on defense early, communicating wonderfully to Kendrick Perkins on when to release and get back to his man on ball screens. He was getting teammates involved, rebounding and running the offense well outside of a few lazy passes. His communication with Perk early really stood out. I never knew him to be vocal on defense.
- I admit it. There was a time I thought the Thunder should have drafted Jerryd Bayless over Westbrook. Bayless could ball in college, though.
- Bayless was getting buckets tonight. Looked like some sort of personal challenge between him and Westbrook.
- The Thunder started the game making its first nine shots. That was the best start from the field in Thunder history.
- Despite that start, and the Grizzlies’ inability to consistently make shots, the Thunder led by only six.
- Turnovers were the problem. The Thunder couldn’t stop turning it over. OKC had six with 4:10 left in the first quarter and eight by the end of the opening period. Again, most stemmed from a few lazy passes, overhead flicks and underhand flips.
- The Thunder didn’t miss its first shot until Westbrook missed a jumper with 3:45 left in the first quarter.
- It’s a joy to watch Collison D-up on Zach Randolph. An absolute joy. Collison crowds Randolph for every second that he’s trying to survey the court and size up the defender, and then he contests each shot as best as he can without fouling.
- Thanks to Ibaka and Collison, Randolph was completely taken out of the game, at least as a scorer. He finished with just nine points on 4-for-17 shooting.
- Randolph sort of took himself out of the game, too. He settled for a lot of jumpers instead of taking it inside. Can’t say he made life on Ibaka and Collison easy. But he certainly could have done more punishment in the paint.
- Hard to say the Thunder shut down Randolph considering he grabbed a game-high 19 boards. Nine of those came on the offensive end, which were five more than the Thunder had as a team.
- Good thing for the Thunder that Z-Bo couldn’t get a putback. He would have flirted with 30 and 20 if he did. But that was one of the themes of the first half for Memphis. The Grizzlies couldn’t convert second chance points. The converted only two of 13 chances in the first half and just five of 20 chances for the game.
- Collison played his tail off tonight. All the way around. He rebounded, was great in the two-man game, took a charge, bodied up on Z-Bo and knocked down the mid-range J. He scored 12 points with seven boards.
- Kevin Martin got hit in the hip with 2:42 left in the first quarter. It happened on defense, just before he drilled a 3 at the other end. After nailing the 3, he began clutching at the left side of his hip while doubled over. It looked for a bit like he was going to crash to the floor. During a timeout, he was examined by the medical staff but remained in the game. He told me after the game that it hurt like crazy but teammates were joking with him that he sure felt good when he got the ball and hoisted that 3.
- The last time Martin had a nick like this he missed the next game. It was a thigh contusion that held him out of the Minnesota game. I’m not saying he won’t be a go for Cleveland. But it’s something to think about.
- The Thunder led by as many as 26 and never trailed.
- Randolph started 0-for-9 from the field. He didn’t score his first point until a free throw with 7:45 left in the third.
- That free throw Randolph hit? It was courtesy of a Durant technical foul. That’s his eighth of the season, putting him one shy of sharing the league lead. Insert KD is not nice joke here.
- Can I just say that I’m still waiting on the point of this new campaign by Nike? What is the point of it? Seems silly to me. KD is not, not nice. KD is nice. Very nice.
- The Thunder Girls brought back the soul train line tonight. I was very pleased. Thank you, Thunder Girls.
- The halftime show, however, was the wrong doggone dogs. The Frisbee dogs, or whatever they’re called, have NOTHING on the Olate Dogs. Hopefully you’ll all get to see soon.
- Nice 25 assist night for OKC. It led to 55.6 percent shooting and a pretty balanced effort.
- Everything else is just cliche after cliche from the players. I won’t bore you with that.
- Up next. At Cleveland on Saturday.
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