The Thunder played 36 great minutes on Saturday, outscoring the Grizzlies by a combined 32 points in the first, second and fourth quarters.
But coming out of halftime, OKC was about as lethargic as we’ve seen them, making only 3-of-16 shots and committing five turnovers in a third quarter that saw them get outscored 31-13.
Russell Westbrook blamed himself.
“It’s on me, man,” Westbrook said. “I’ve got to a do a better job. I turned the ball over a few times. Pace got real slow. I was lagging. It won’t happen again. It was my fault.”
Westbrook finished the game with 23 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. But in the third quarter, he went 0-of-5 with two turnovers. He said those kind of lapses are unacceptable.
“Not if you want to win a championship,” Westbrook said. “As a point guard, that’s what I want to do. I’ve got to do a better job being focused. Especially the start of third quarters, coming out of halftime. That’s when teams usually relax and we were that team.”
STEVEN ADAMS CONTRIBUTES TO SOLID INTERIOR EFFORT
Steven Adams entered Saturday’s game late in the first quarter, marking his debut in the NBA playoffs.
Over the next few minutes, he had three blocks – the first on a Tony Allen layup that sparked an OKC fastbreak and the other two in an impressive 15-second span, denying two Grizzlies shots at the rim.
Quite an initial postseason impression by the rookie, who showed no jitters on the amped-up stage.
“The three blocks were huge,” OKC coach Scott Brooks said. “All aggressive plays, being alert on the weak-side and they led to opportunities for us to get out in transition.”
Adams’ 12 solid minutes were just part of an impressive showing from all the Thunder’s bigs, who held Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph to an inefficient 14-of-40 shooting.
Foul trouble was an issue for the Thunder, even forcing Hasheem Thabeet into the game at one point. But Brooks didn’t seem too concerned, trusting that his frontline depth will allow OKC to remain physical.
KD AND WESTBROOK’S SUNDAY CONVERSATION
In advance of this season's playoffs, Kevin Durant and Westbrook sat down for ESPN's weekly Sunday Conversation to discuss their often-dissected relationship.
And in the interview, ESPN's Mike Tirico took a different, interesting approach, asking each of the superstars to go back and forth, using one word to describe the other.
Durant's words for Westbrook: Energetic, erratic, destroyer, goofy, emotional, athletic, hard-worker.
Westbrook's words for Durant: Unselfish, cool, killer, intimidating, slow-motion, lanky, dedication.
Durant also called it “ludicrous” that people determine their relationship off of the amount of field goal attempts each gets, saying the two are very close off the court.
“We have that brother relationship, we hang out off the court, do what normal people do,” Durant said. “We call, we text and when we have a problem, we speak out about it.”
PRINCE EXPECTED TO START
Grizzlies starting small forward Tayshaun Prince was limited to four minutes on Saturday, leaving the game with an unspecified illness.
But according to Memphis coach Dave Joerger, Prince practiced on Sunday and will start on Monday.
REFLECTING ON MOMENT OF SILENCE
In honor of the 19th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, the Thunder observed a moment of silence before Saturday’s playoff opener.
A day later, Brooks and Westbrook reflected on what it meant.
“It’s definitely a special moment,” Brooks said. “Before the game, being able to remember all the victims and families. The thing that I know, being here now and going through the Moore tornadoes, is the resolve and resiliency of the city. People are always behind one another.”
Westbrook said: “It’s a special moment, man. I can remember the first time I went to the Memorial and just checked it out, it’s crazy man. Nineteenth anniversary, just happy to be playing on that day.”