* Perkins played the second-most minutes for the Thunder, 34:16. Durant played 43:42. Next was Martin (31:37) and Jackson (31:26).
Despite Russell Westbrook’s injury, the Thunder seems to have more depth than the Grizzlies. After Durant, the next four players with the most minutes were all Memphians – Gasol 40:02, Conley 38:06, Randolph 37:18 and Prince 34:56.
* Speaking of Jackson, the Thunder is going to have a heck of a backup point guard next year. After this playoff experience, Jackson is going to be a brand-new ballplayer. He and Westbrook will play together a bunch next season.
Jackson was solid Sunday: 12 points, 4-of-8 shooting, three rebounds, two assists, only one turnover, two cold-blooded foul shots with 2.9 seconds left.
* Strange lineup to open the second quarter. Fisher, Martin, Collison, Hasheem Thabeet and DeAndre Liggins. No way has that fivesome shared the court this season. They stayed together for 1:55, before Ibaka replaced Thabeet, and were outscored 5-0. Durant played 43:42 – he sat the first 4:18 of the second quarter. And it went OK, after Brooks started replenishing the lineup. The Thunder held serve, 9-9, with Durant on the bench, thanks to Martin’s seven points.
* With Ibaka and that lineup, the Thunder produced its most beautiful possession of the game. Martin had a shot from the corner but passed to Fisher instead. Fisher could have launched but passed to Liggins instead. Liggins could have shot but got it inside to Ibaka, who missed a short jumper. But Collison was wide open underneath for an easy putback.
* Martin missed his first three shots and you thought, uh-oh, here we go again. But then Martin made two straight – a running bank shot with Pondexter all over him, then a twisting drive that went in and drew a foul from Pondexter. Martin was 6-of-9 the rest of the way.
* Strange stat: The Thunder missed its first 11 go-ahead shots. Until Durant’s foul shots with 4:43 left in the second quarter, the Thunder had 11 shots that would have produced a lead. And missed them all.
* Durant’s only second-quarter points came on four foul shots, two trips to the line courtesy not so much of Austin Daye’s fouls, but of the rip move. What a terrible rule. They’ve got to get rid of that.
* Memphis was picking on Martin in the second half. Whoever Martin was guarded, the Grizzlies were getting the ball to. Keep an eye on that the rest of the series.
* The Thunder’s small lineup will get some more action, after the success in Game 1. Playing small, the Thunder climbed back from a 70-58 deficit and was within 84-79 when Brooks returned to the traditional lineup.
The small lineup’s impact would have been even more pronounced had not Pondexter nailed that well-contested, 35-foot runner at the third-quarter buzzer that gave the Grizzlies a 73-64 lead.
* Interesting reaction from Hollins. He said the Grizzlies might have been better off by not going big at 5:45. Not until then did Hollins try to play both Gasol and Randolph against the Thunder’s small lineup, though Brooks immediately went big himself. Hollins said Memphis lost some offensive flow when Gasol and Randolph played together.
If Hollins wants to split those guys up, it will be just fine with the Thunder.
* Perkins played a solid game – and not just defensively. He had seven rebounds and mostly kept Gasol off the offensive boards. Perk also had three assists. But that late turnover was a killer, when Perkins muffed a Durant inbounds pass with 1:08 left and Memphis up 90-87.
Blame that one on Brooks. There was no reason not to have Collison in for Perkins at that point. There was a good chance the clock was going to stop after every possession, so there was plenty of opportunity to make situational substitutions.
* Brooks said the keys to the game, other than great plays at the end, were rebounding and turnovers. The Thunder allowed just 10 offensive rebounds and only four second-chance points. Memphis always is available to pound you on the boards, if the opportunity is available.
Also, OKC had just 10 turnovers. Here are its turnovers since Westbrook was ruled out: 11, 22, 8, 10. Maybe that’s the one thing that’s better without Westbrook. Taking care of the ball.
“Well it was nice to get the first win,” Brooks said. “I thought our guys did a lot of good things out there, only giving up seven offensive rebounds, and only turning the ball over 10 times. Those were two of our important keys of the game, and we did it at a high level. Everybody, all of our bigs, they came in there and battled. Everybody did a good job defensively, we locked in. Offensively we had some good moments and we had some so-so moments. Those are things that we can correct and hopefully going into the next game we will.”
* Here are Memphis’ final six possessions: Ibaka blocks a Randolph close-in shot, Gasol makes a short jump hook on the baseline, Prince misses a drive, Fisher steals from Conley, Sefolosha makes the deflection that leads to a turnover and finally Pondexter’s three foul shots.
“That’s what we pride ourselves in is defensive toughness,” Brooks said. “When both teams are being serious like this, you have to earn every inch of the court. I thought that was an important aspect of our fourth-quarter defense. We weren’t allowing easy catches or easy dribbles. We weren’t allowing easy shots and we were getting rebounds. Serge did not have a good shooting game, but he fought and gave us everything he had on defense. He’s not going to go 1 for 10 (very often). He’s one of our best if not one of the best in the league at making shots from 16 and 17 feet. But I thought the fourth quarter, the last two minutes, was outstanding defense.”
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