The entire Memphis Grizzlies team had returned from the locker room and retaken the court.
As they launched shots from various spots, warming up just before the start of the second half, the other end of the court remained empty. Thunder players and coaches were still in the back as the halftime clock approached four minutes.
They were busy breaking down film.
“We were watching things that we needed to clean up; certain things that went on during the first half,” said Thunder center Kendrick Perkins.
Whatever necessary adjustments were discussed apparently didn't translate on the court.
The Grizzlies outscored the Thunder 12-6 in the first five minutes of the third quarter, continuing a troubling trend seen throughout this postseason by Oklahoma City. Since Game 2 against Houston, the Thunder has suffered through slow starts to the game and the second half. Those slow starts have led to early deficits and lost momentum.
Going into Game 2 against the Grizzlies on Tuesday night, the Thunder is hoping to start reversing that trend.
“It's something that we're aware of and we have to get better with our starts,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “We're trying to figure it out.”
How bad have the starts been?
In the first five minutes of every first and third quarter since Game 2 against the Rockets, Oklahoma City has been outscored by a combined 147-88.
Of the 12 first and third quarters over that span, the Thunder has held a lead after five minutes in only one of those periods. It was a 13-9 advantage in the first quarter of Game 4 at Houston.
“I think it's all mental,” Perkins said. “I think we got to do a better job of executing. I think we come out too casual, especially in the third. I don't ever worry about the start of the game, especially when we're at home, because our home crowd's going to always get us through the first quarter.”
In some ways, the slow starts can be attributed to the Thunder simply missing shots. But the defense has been more troubling than the offense.
Memphis' hot start in the second half Sunday was the eighth time in the last 12 first and third quarters that the Thunder yielded at least 10 points in the first five minutes. OKC allowed 15 or more three times over that span.
“It's a concern,” Brooks said. “We've been able to overcome that. But we can't continue to see it game after game.”
The third quarter in particular has been problematic.
OKC has been outscored in the third quarter by 6.9 points on average in the last six games. In that quarter, opponents have shot 47.1 percent while the Thunder has connected on just 34.4 percent of its field-goal attempts.
Additionally, in the past six games, the Thunder has forced only 2.8 turnovers in the first quarter and 2.7 turnovers in the third period. By comparison, the Thunder has forced 5.2 turnovers on average in the second quarter and 4.7 in the fourth.
Some of the struggles were a result of the Thunder matching up with a run and gun Rockets team in the first round. Houston got hot on occasion and the Thunder simply had trouble cooling off the Rockets.
“We were kind of confused with the Rockets series, with all the lineups that they were going with,” Perkins said. “We couldn't really play our style of basketball. Really that was a street ball series, so now we're back to NBA basketball right now and we can get back into our set defense.”
Another factor, which no one with the Thunder wants to use as an excuse, is the absence of Russell Westbrook. His impact on the team continues to cast a shadow of this postseason, in both big and small ways. That includes the slow starts.
Not having Westbrook means the Thunder has had to replace the player who supplied scoring from the opening tip. As a result, the Thunder has been forced to completely change the way early points are produced.
Westbrook averaged 8.7 points in the first period after the All-Star break, and his early scoring resulted in the opening quarter being the best period for the Thunder. Oklahoma City averaged 28.5 first-quarter points after the All-Star break and outscored opponents by and average of 5.1 points over that span.
The Thunder is now outscoring opponents by only 1.2 points per game without Westbrook.
It's been a struggle to replicate Westbrook's early impact.
The obvious solution would be for others to step up. But it's not as simple as it sounds.
Kevin Durant has increased his first-quarter scoring from 5.6 points in the regular season to 10.2 points without Westbrook. But others have been negatively impacted by Westbrook's absence, namely Serge Ibaka. Ibaka, after the All-Star break, averaged 4.9 first-quarter points. He's down to 3.8 points per first quarter without Westbrook, who was responsible for 50 percent of Ibaka's assisted field goals in the regular season.