Houston Game 4 first half: Martin 4-of-9, 14 points, Thunder outscores Rockets 60-53.
Houston Game 4 second half: Martin 1-of-2, two points, Thunder outscored 52-43.
Houston Game 3, first half: Martin 3-of-5, 12 points, Thunder outscores Rockets 66-49.
Houston Game 3, second half: Martin 0-of-6, no points, Thunder outscored 52-38.
So let’s review. Since losing Westbrook, in halves that safely could be called excellent production by Martin, the Thunder has outscored foes by 30 points in six games. In Martin halves that fairly can be called poor, the Thunder has been outscored by 36. And the Thunder outscored Memphis by five in a half that Martin played so-so.
* Hasheem Thabeet doesn’t do a lot – he had three rebounds and two foul in 12:45 of playing time – but he did give the big guys some rest. And he’s awfully active. Sometimes it looks Thabeet dropped from the ceiling trying to swipe at a rebound.
* I know Durant didn’t come through in the last two minutes. But his second half numbers were awesome: 8-of-15 shooting, 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists.
Still, the execution of the last 21/2 minutes was abysmal. After Perkins – yep, Perkins – gave the Thunder a 90-89 lead with two foul shots at 2:41, the Thunder went five straight possessions without scoring.
Durant had an open 3-pointer, thanks to a cool pump fake on Allen, but otherwise, a series of iffy shots. The Derek Fisher air ball. A hesitant Jackson 3-pointer. A contested Durant 3-pointer. Plus two turnovers. Only Fisher’s meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer kept Memphis from ending the game with a 10-0 run.
“We knew that we had to take away some other people,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said, referring to Durant’s big night. “Except for Fisher’s 14 in the first half, we did pretty much that. We were hanging on by a thread in the first half when they were raining all of the threes on us. We just kept scoring and scoring and the next thing you know, we were up at half time. In the fourth quarter it was a little bit of the same. Durant got it going and scoring it, and he just kept making a play, kept making a play, kept making a play and in the end we got stops.”
* Rebounding is what won the game for Memphis (23 second-chance points), and turnovers killed the Thunder (21, leading to 29 points). But the most embarrassing stat for the Thunder should be fast-break points. Memphis outscored the Thunder 18-7 in transition.
Where have you gone, Russell Westbrook?
* Mike Conley has turned into a wonderful player.
Heck, let’s just compare his night to Durant’s.
Points: Durant 36, Conley 26.
Rebounds: Durant 11, Conley 10.
Assists: Durant nine, Conley nine.
Shooting: Durant 11-of-21, Conley 11-of-22.
The only major difference is that Durant got to the foul line (11 of 12) twice as much as did Conley, and Durant had five turnovers to Conley’s two.
Conley also seems like such a class act.
Gasol said Conley was “more aggressive. We did a good job at getting him in the open. Zach Randolph made good first screens and I tried to clean it up. Most of the time, they tried to trap him and he got in the paint and he shot well.”
* Clean up the rebounding and the turnovers, and the Thunder has to feel good about itself. Cleaning up the turnovers could come easily. Cleaning up the rebounding will not.
“It is going to be tough, but we know we have to correct some areas that we need to improve on quickly within the next three days,” said Brooks. “We have time to work on those areas and focus on those areas. Our guys have been around. They have been through a lot of games before, a lot of series before and we understand that it is the first to four and that we are excited about the challenge.
“We knew it was going to be a challenge, we knew that going into this series. This is a very physical team that does a lot of good things and we have to make sure that we counter that with our physical play.”
* Fisher’s ageless routine continues. He had one horrible possession – an air-balled 10-footer with a little more than two minutes left and the Thunder up 90-89 – but otherwise, Fish was pristine.
In two games against Memphis, Fisher has made six of eight 3-pointers. He’s 9-of-16 from the field and has added to his arsenal – he’s been attacking more against Memphis’ pressure defense.
* As the series continues, look for Hollins to use more Tony Allen and less Tayshaun Prince in defending Durant.
* Through two games, Durant isn’t the only one carrying a big load. He’s played 86:16. But Gasol has played 83:30, Conley 80:25 and Zach Randolph 79:48. Clearly, the Thunder has more depth it can depend on. Can the Thunder take advantage?
* I think you’ll see Scotty Brooks go with the small lineup again, even if Gasol and Randolph are in the game together.
The Thunder traded twos for threes. It scored 16 points on its first six possessions with Durant guarding Gasol. You can’t do it early in the game, because of potential foul trouble. But the Grizzlies were hard-pressed to man up with the Thunder when Durant, Fisher, Ibaka, Martin and Sefolosha were spreading the court.