Before the game, TNT analyst Mike Fratello called Memphis guard Mike Conley the key player for the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 2 of the playoff series Tuesday night.
Fratello was right on with his prediction. Conley shredded the Thunder in the second half in the Grizzlies' victory.
“Get space for Conley,” he said. “That's what (Memphis coach) Lionel Hollins said. Give him space and he'll have room to operate. He certainly has.”
After his 3-point shot gave the Grizzlies a 92-90 lead, he said, “Good ball movement. Conley has a beautiful stroke behind the 3-point line.”
On the postgame show, Charles Barkley called Conley “the most underrated very, very good player in the league and I'm not going on just this one game. His play was consistently great last series.”
Barkley said the Thunder was lucky to have a split in the first two games. “They could easily be down 2-0,” he said.
Barkley also criticized the Thunder's offense with Kevin Durant as the point forward. “I still think they are in the wrong offense technically. It puts so much pressure on Durant to play like a point forward … They need to give other guys a chance to make a play.”
Fratello, a former NBA head coach with Atlanta, Cleveland and Memphis, brought a coach's perspective to the TNT telecast with some excellent analysis.
--Noting the Thunder's slow start: “Sometimes the home team doesn't come out with the same urgency as the visiting team.”
--On Derek Fisher's hot 3-point shooting in the second quarter: “You got him spotted up. (Kevin) Martin on the floor. Fisher on the floor. Dangerous from the 3-point line.”
--On Durant guarding Memphis center Marc Gasol, “This is a chess match. Who makes a move first? Does Scottie Brooks take him out and take him off or does Lionel Hollins keep going at him, keep going at him.”
Fratello ranked Gasol and Randolph among the top two big-men pair in the league with Chicago's Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. “I'm talking about their ability to make big-man to big-man passes.”
--On Thunder center Kendrick Perkins' weak offensive performance: “A little too frustrated. Trying to do too much.”
Shaquille O'Neal and Barkley praised Gasol's effort and called him the best big man in the league since Brooklyn's Brook Lopez was no longer paying.
“He's shooting the jumper,” Shaq said. “He's a fabulous player. He's a good passer. He knows how to get into another big man.”
Barkley called Gasol is the best center, period.
“He's a great defender. He and Noah are the two best passers.”
“That is an old-fashioned beat down what him and Randolph are doing to their two big guys. … There was one time when they got like four offensive rebounds.”
“We always talk about how (Serge) Ibaka is a shot blocker. You don't get to block shots when guys are putting the wood on you.”
Kenny Smith said Durant was adapting to his new role as a point forward.
“Because Durant gets so much attention when he has the basketball, he has to be a facilitator. When he catches it from the wings, he's a scorer.”
However, Barkley noted that on the other end, Durant couldn't defend Gasol. “He got a layup three or four times and they can't get a defensive rebound.”
— Play-by-play announcer Matt Devlin on Durant's slam dunk late in the third quarter: “Durant crossover … On the rim … Oh, my goodness! Kevin Durant!”
— In the pregame show, TNT host Matt Winer, who was subbing for Ernie Johnson, complimented Barkley for winning his second straight Sports Emmy as studio analyst. “It's a team win,” Barkley said.
— Barkley said Ibaka need to shoot better if the team had any chance to win the series. “He has to be the second-best player on the starting unit.”