The Thunder did not produce in some of the key areas Scott Brooks has identified as critical in this series, and the grades reflect it:
DEFENSIVE REBOUNDING: D. The Grizzlies had 21 offensive rebounds, which led to their taking 16 more shots than did the Thunder. The Thunder was outscored 23-6 in second-chance points. The game seemed to turn on a second-quarter possession in which the Grizzlies missed three straight shots, but Marc Gasol rebounded the first and Zach Randolph the next two, before Quincy Pondexter sank a jumper that cut the OKC lead to 49-47, and the Grizzlies eventually took a 54-51 halftime lead. Memphis' last offensive rebound was a killer, too; Tony Allen, under the basket, banged the ball off the bottom of the rim but got his own rebound, and eventually Mike Conley made a jumper for a 94-90 lead with 1:01 left.
SMALL BALL: A. Scotty Brooks won a fascinating chess match in the second quarter, when he went with a small lineup and had Kevin Durant guard the 7-foot Gasol. It hurt the Thunder defensively; the Grizzlies scored on five of eight possessions, scoring twice off offensive rebounds. But what an offense with Durant, Derek Fisher, Serge Ibaka, Kevin Martin and Thabo Sefolosha. The Thunder scored 16 points on its first six possessions with the lineup — Fisher scored 11 points himself, with three 3-pointers. The Thunder turned a 30-29 deficit into a 45-42 lead before Brooks went big again.
BALL-HANDLING: C. The Thunder had 10 turnovers in Game 1. It had 11 turnovers in the first 221/2 minutes of Game 2. The Thunder finished with 19, leading to 29 Memphis points. And none of the OKC turnovers came on illegal screens, which is its normal bugaboo. The Thunder was just not careful with the ball.
BEAR WRESTLING: C. Gasol and Randolph combined for 37 points on 14 of 25 shooting. Just like in Game 1, the Thunder did a decent job on Randolph, who was 6-of-12. But Gasol was 8-of-13 and again hurt the Thunder on shots outside 15 feet. Gasol was 3-of-3 on outside shots in the first half. Thunder defenders Kendrick Perkins, Ibaka and Hasheem Thabeet seemed to realize they had to get up on Gasol. That will have to continue as the series progresses.
FUNKY LINEUPS: C. Brooks opened the fourth quarter with a lineup of Thabeet, Fisher, Collison, Martin and Reggie Jackson, going against Memphis' starting lineup. A 74-69 OKC lead became a 76-78 deficit in less than 21/2 minutes. A lineup of Thabeet, Fisher, Martin, Ibaka and Sefolosha played the first 3:05 of the second quarter and fared a little better. That fivesome cut a 23-21 deficit to 30-29 before Durant and reinforcements arrived.
KEVIN DURANT: B. Durant was sensational for 46 minutes. But his final two minutes were forgettable. Durant missed a wide-open 3-pointer with the Thunder trailing 92-90, then he lost the ball with the Thunder trailing 94-90 and finally he missed another 3-pointer with the score 95-90. But Durant's numbers were great: 36 points on 11-of-21 shooting, 11 rebounds, nine assists.
3-POINT SHOOTING: C. The Thunder made six of its first seven 3-pointers. But then OKC missed 14 of its next 16. Until Fisher's trey at the buzzer, Durant was the only Thunder player to make a 3-pointer in the second half.
KEVIN MARTIN: D. Circle K's streak of two straight hot games ended with a thud. Martin made just two of 11 shots and finished with six points. The plot seems to be dependable; as Martin goes, so goes the Thunder.