The Western Conference semifinal between the Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies two seasons ago went seven games and was known for its physicality.
Predictably, this year's series also has been physical.
“Just the brand of basketball that Memphis plays,” four-time All-Star Kevin Durant said Friday in preparation for Game 3 on Saturday at 4 p.m. at FedExForum. “Of course, everybody's going to say it's physical, and (it's) just how we play with Perk (Kendrick Perkins) and Serge (Ibaka), our bigs and Nick (Collison) and Hasheem (Thabeet). … It's just guys bunching each other up. Nothing more than that. It's really not as physical as people think it is. It's a physical basketball game, don't get me wrong, but it's not overly physical and guys doing things to get techs or fouls. It's a tough basketball game.”
Asked if play has gotten too “chippy,” Durant said: “I think people want us to fight in basketball. They want to see that stuff. I guess it's entertaining, but two teams play solid basketball. That's all it is. You've got to like that. You gotta enjoy that as a fan. Two teams playing hard and playing solid basketball. You don't need all that other stuff in the game.”
Nary a peep has been heard from all those Derek Fisher critics this postseason.
“He's making shots. He's spacing the floor for us. Defensively, he's doing it all — staying in front of the ball, boxing out, taking charges,” Durant said of Fisher. “He's making open shots and just being aggressive. That's what we need him to do. There's going to be some nights where K-Mart (Kevin Martin) is going to be super aggressive. It's going to be nice. Like last game, Fish was hot from 3(-point range), aggressive taking it to the rim and shooting shots. He ignited us all. He inspired us all. Hopefully he keeps it up.”
Collison had six fouls, four turnovers and zero points in 15:22 of playing time in Game 2. Perkins had six rebounds, four points, four fouls and three turnovers in 24:13.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks was particularly bothered by seven turnovers from bigs who rarely handle the ball on offense.
“That's not going to happen. Hopefully it doesn't happen again,” Brooks said. “That's a lot of turnovers for those guys. We ask them to make plays for us, catching the ball at the high-post area. Hopefully that's just a one-game thing and we can move on and not worry about that.”
After playing Memphis to a 4-4 draw in second-chance points in a Game 1 victory, the Thunder was thrashed 23-6 in a Game 2 loss thanks to the Grizzlies collecting 16 offensive rebounds.
Many of those second chances came when OKC momentarily had a defensive rebound, but lost possession.
“It's going to be a tough, tough series,” Durant said. “If we do the small things, keeping the ball in our hands, rebounding the basketball, we put ourselves in good position.”
Fisher on forcing tempo against the Memphis defense more frequently: “We're at 50-percent pace coming up the court and against a team that is as good in the half-court defense as they are we have to get that ball up with pace, play faster. That doesn't mean we have to play reckless, but play with pace and allow Reggie and our guys to attack and be more aggressive.”
JOHN ROHDE AND JENNI CARLSON