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Nuggets from my notebook: Grizzlies 99, Thunder 93

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: May 8, 2013 at 1:05 pm •  Published: May 8, 2013

Nuggets from my notebook from Tuesday’s Game 2 loss to the Grizzlies.

  • All the Grizzlies needed to do was split. They let one get away Sunday but got it done in Game 2. Now it’s up to the Thunder to go to Tennessee this weekend and do the same.
  • “It’s the first team to four,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “It’s 1-1. They did a great job. They came into our building and got a win. Now we have to go into their building and get a win. Is it impossible? Absolutely not.”
  • All those little things that went the Thunder’s way in the final minutes of Game 1, all those steals and deflections, all those big shots and big stops, were on Memphis’ side tonight.
  • In the final 2:41, after the Thunder took a 90-89 lead on a pair of Kendrick Perkins free throws, OKC went 1-for-5 with two turnovers, the lone make coming on a meaningless 3-pointer by Derek Fisher. Memphis went 2-for-5 over that same span but had only one turnover. The biggest difference was three offensive rebounds for the Grizzlies during that stretch. They led to three second-chance points. Memphis also made three of four foul shots, while the Thunder didn’t get to the line a single time in those closing minutes.
  • “It feels good,” said Mike Conley. “We felt that Game 1 we had an opportunity to win it and we played well enough to win it but they made the plays down the stretch. And tonight, we were that team that made the plays. And we were better tonight.”
  • That final 2:41 characterized what plagued the Thunder from the final three minutes of the first half on. Turnovers and defensive rebounding. I know. Where have you heard that before, right? OKC allowed 16 offensive rebounds, leading to 23 Grizzlies points. And the Thunder turned it over 21 times, leading to 29 Grizzlies points.
  • “We gave up too many offensive rebounds and second chance points,” Brooks said. “The game before, we did an outstanding job.”
  • In Game 1, the Thunder allowed only eight offensive rebounds and just four second-chance points.
  • Also, in Game 1 the Thunder turned it over just 10 times, leading to only 14 Grizzlies points. Tonight, the Thunder had 11 turnovers by halftime.
  • “We do a better job in those two areas and we’re still in the game,” Brooks said. “Those are areas that are correctable. Those are areas that we can get better at going into next game. Those are two important areas.”
  • Here was an issue I had with the Thunder’s late-game execution. The wrong players were taking the wrong shots. Much of it had to do with Memphis’ defense on Kevin Durant.  The Grizzlies made sure Durant would not again be that dude that beat them. They attached Tony Allen to him and sent multiple bodies his direction. Allen was either physical with him or the defensive attention forced Durant to give it up. Still. In the final five minutes, Reggie Jackson missed two 3s, Serge Ibaka missed a corner 3 and Fisher took a tough shot. Each were shots that are fine for the regular season or even the first three quarters of a playoff game. But in the final five minutes, the Thunder has got to get better looks.
  • Much of the problem tonight, once again, was a lack of help for Durant. Fisher and Durant combined for 55 points on 17-for-30 shooting. Everybody else on the Thunder combined for 38 points on 13 of 40 shooting.
  • Durant was again marvelous. He finished with 36 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. One more helper and he would have had his first playoff triple-double.
  • Loved the way KD controlled the offense with his passing in the second quarter.
  • The Thunder got away with Durant sitting at the start of the second and actually gained a point with Durant sitting for the first 3:05.
  • Durant was asked after the game how much he can carry without Russell Westbrook. Funny how the questions changed in two days. “I can carry as much as coach needs me to carry,” Durant said. “I made those shots last game. I missed them this game. I’m going to continue to keep taking them.”
  • Brooks tried to do the same to start the fourth. This time it backfired. Memphis went on a 5-0 run to tie the game 35 seconds into the period.
  • Durant posts a 36/11/9 and says this: “I could have did more. I always can do more. I got to put my teammates in better positions to score. I turned the ball over somewhat. I thought I could have made better passes. I shot some shots I should have drove or I should have got closer. But I always can be better.”
  • Jackson’s going to have to assert himself more offensively. It’s pretty clear the coaches want him force-feeding Durant. But that’s not going to work. He’s got to call his own number and get to the basket more. He can’t finish with eight shot attempts, especially when three of them are 3-pointers.
  • More significantly on this night was Jackson’s defense. He took responsibility for allowing Conley to have a huge night. Conley finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. He had just two turnovers.
  • Fish was again fantastic. He made six of nine shots, four of five from 3 and scored 19 points off the bench.
  • Kevin Martin: six points, 2-for-11 shooting. That hurt big time. And the Grizzlies didn’t even have to put Tony Allen on him.
  • Marc Gasol is having his way so far in this series. He had 24, five and five in this one.
  • Durant, much like he was after the Thunder’s Game 5 loss to Houston, was as cool as can be. He wasn’t worried. He didn’t get down. He still displayed supreme confidence and belief in his team. “Of course everybody’s going to panic because we lost the game. But that’s not what we’re going to do here. We’re just going to continue to keep getting better.”
  • Up next. Game 3 on Saturday.

-DM-


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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