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Jenni Carlson: Thunder energy drained Grizzlies

by Jenni Carlson Published: May 12, 2011

Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins mused before Wednesday night's game whether coming off a triple-overtime game would affect his guys more than the Thunder.

“Everybody keeps talking about 22-year-old legs,” he said in a not-so-veiled reference to the Thunder's young stars.

He smiled a bit.

“Hey, 56 minutes is 56 minutes,” he said in a not-so-veiled reference to Kevin Durant, who played that long Monday night.

Hollins didn't sound worried about the Thunder's young legs.

Maybe he should've been.

Thunder 99, Grizzlies 72.

On a night when the momentum in this playoff series swung even more toward Oklahoma City, the boys in blue were the more energetic team. The pep in their step led to a blowout that might just demoralize the Grizzlies.

“You beat good teams by really executing very well and by having good effort,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We did both of them tonight.”

That execution and effort led to easy baskets.

The Thunder scored 46 points in the paint. Those aren't all easy baskets, mind you, but any time you get the ball that close to the rim, you've got a great chance of scoring.

The Thunder converted.

The Thunder had 18 second-chance points. The Grizzlies had nine.

Oklahoma City had 20 fast-break points. Memphis had seven.

“A lot of guys got out in transition because everybody was rebounding the ball tonight,” Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook said. “We got a lot of long-tip rebounds and got out in transition.”

Often, getting to those long boards is all about effort, and often, giving that extra effort is all about having the energy to go a little faster, to reach a little quicker, to fight a little harder.

The Thunder had that extra energy Wednesday night.

Sometimes being the youngest team in the playoffs isn't such a bad thing.

“I don't think fatigue was an issue; it was more our effort,” Grizzlies big man Marc Gasol insisted. “We let down. We started off pretty good, playing intense, helping each other. Then when we got down a little bit, we gave up too easily.”

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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