That left the Thunder forced to make plays in halfcourt sets, something that’s never been a strong suit. Thunder coach Scott Brooks attempted to attack the Grizzlies defense by putting Durant and Westbrook in positions they’re most comfortable. He used ball screens or down screens to free Durant or Westbrook on 11 trips. The problem the Thunder ran into was it got stuck in scramble mode when those screens didn’t spring Durant free — something for which Memphis can credit Tony Allen’s impeccable ball denial skills — or produce a quality look. With little to no secondary action away from the ball to keep the defense guessing, the Thunder’s All-Stars were then forced to make a play. At times, they settled for long-range shots.
The most glaring sign of how much the Thunder reverted to its old ways was seen in Serge Ibaka’s inclusion. In a career year, Ibaka didn’t take a single shot in the fourth quarter or overtime in Game 2. The Thunder used eight isolations in the final 10 minutes.
“We got to figure it out,” Durant said. “We got to trust our teammates, which we’ve been doing, just trusting everybody. And guys have been coming through for us. We lost last game. We got to just move past it and continue to trust each other, not just the fourth quarter but the start of the game. That’s going to give guys confidence in the fourth as well.”