Last season, the Thunder didn't lose a home playoff game until Game 2 of the NBA Finals, which turned out to be its final game of the season at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
So far this season, OKC already has lost two home playoff games and has gone 3-3 at The Peake in its last six home games.
“I think you have to understand there is no script for the playoffs,” said Thunder reserve guard Derek Fisher, the active career leader in postseason games with 237. “There's no script for a finished way of how you're going to win. If you want to be the best, you just figure out how to get it done no matter what circumstances you face and that's what this team has done in the past. That's what we'll have to do now.”
The Thunder was 34-7 (. 829) at home this season, the league's fourth-best record.
“You can be the greatest team in the world at home,” Fisher said, “but if you don't win that trophy, nobody's going to care. It's just about figuring out a way to get it done where you're faced with adversity, and that's what we'll have to do.”
Thunder bigs combined for 17 fouls in Game 2. Nick Collison fouled out in just 15:22 of playing time, while Serge Ibaka had five fouls, Kendrick Perkins four and Hasheem Thabeet two.
Meanwhile, Memphis frontcourt players Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph combined for six fouls with three each and combined for 39 points and 13 rebounds (six offensive). OKC was outrebounded 43-35.
Was there anything Thunder perimeter players could have done to help alleviate foul problems for its frontcourt players?
“It starts before they get into foul trouble,” Fisher said. “There were some things I don't think we did well in terms of how we defended the Grizzlies that put our bigs in tough positions. You obviously know coming into this series the frontcourt is going to be the focal point and so I thought we did a poor job tonight of providing support and really making it difficult for the two of those guys to be effective.”
COACH OF THE YEAR
Denver's George Karl has been an NBA coach for 25 seasons and is the active leader with 1,131 career victories, but it wasn't until Wednesday when he won his first NBA Coach of the Year award.
Karl captured 62 first-place votes from a panel of 121 sportswriters and broadcasters to win the award handily. Miami's Erik Spoelstra (24 first-place votes) was second, San Antonio's Gregg Popovich (11) third, Indiana's Frank Vogel (3) fourth and Memphis' Lionel Hollins (6) fifth.
A total of 14 coaches, all postseason qualifiers, received votes. The Thunder's Scott Brooks received three third-place votes and was last in the balloting.
The Nuggets finished with a league-best 38-3 (. 927) mark at home, the league's best record since Cleveland went 39-2 in 2008-09 at Quicken Loans Arena.
Memphis point guard Mike Conley led the Grizzlies in points (26), rebounds (10) and assists (nine) in Game 2. No players tied him in any of those categories.
According to ESPN Stats, only one other player in Memphis history did that in a playoff game and that was Pau Gasol against the Phoenix Suns (2005) and the Dallas Mavericks (2006). The Grizzlies lost both those games.
Conley is just the fourth player in the last 25 seasons with at least 26 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in a road playoff win, joining LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Baron Davis.
Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook will meet with reporters on Thursday morning for the first time since undergoing season-ending knee surgery 12 days ago. … Memphis scored 61 of its 99 points in the second (30) and fourth (31) quarters on Tuesday. … Game 2 was the 112th consecutive sellout at Chesapeake Energy Arena, including the postseason. … Game 5 of the series will be played Wednesday at The Peake at 8:30 p.m. and shown on TNT.
Thunder starting point guard Reggie Jackson on losing Game 2: “I let my guy (Conley) go one assist shy of a triple-double. You don't have to look too far to find how we lost tonight.”
BY JOHN ROHDE