The Thunder's defense was solid, but its offense struggled through most of an 87-81 Game 3 loss to Memphis, and the grades reflect it.
SMALL LINEUP: B. Scotty Brooks went small more than half the game – 26:47. During that time, the Thunder had 55 possessions and scored 55 points. The Grizzlies had 54 possessions and scored 53 points. Small ball ignited the Thunder in the second quarter, when OKC scored 21 points in 7 1/2 minutes. The Thunder made eight of 11 shots during one second-quarter stretch, and most of it came with Kevin Durant getting help; he had just two of those 21 points. But Durant was more productive in the big lineup, with which he made five of eight shots. With the small lineup, Durant was 4-of-11.
CRUNCH TIME: D. After Derek Fisher's 3-pointer tied the game at 81 with 1:58 left, the Thunder collapsed. Five possessions, all empty. A turnover, three missed shots and two missed foul shots. But the Thunder defense kept the grade from being an F. The Thunder defense was solid. The last six Memphis points came at the foul line. One foul was committed on Marc Gasol in the paint, but of the other two fouls, one came in the backcourt, a mistake by Reggie Jackson, and the other was intentional with 15 seconds left. Durant made a steal with 24 seconds left to give the Thunder hope. The Thunder failure was offensive. In the last 1:57 of the last two games, the Thunder is 1-of-7 from the field, 0-of-2 from the line, with three turnovers. The only make was a meaningless Fisher trey at the buzzer in Game 2.
HOMEGROWN TALENT: A. Memphis celebrated Game 3 by using Memphians to entertain the crowd. Grizzlies P.A. announcer Rick Trotter sang the national anthem and produced a solid rendition. The halftime act was the Beale Street Flippers, which does a series flipping routines. The most impressive part of the act was a guy chunkier than Zach Randolph who back-flipped all over the court.
FOUL SHOOTING: D. The NBA's best foul-shooting team three years running, the Thunder collapsed at the line. OKC made just 12 of 19 foul shots; Durant missed two with 39.3 seconds left in a four-point game, Fisher made just one of two with 2:33 left and OKC down four, Jackson made just one of two with 5:39 left and OKC down seven. Hard for this no-Russell Westbrook team to win without maximizing its foul shot opportunities.
BEAR WRESTLING: A. The Thunder did a solid job guarding Gasol and Zach Randolph. The Memphis strong men combined to make just 10 of 24 shots, score 28 points and corral just two offensive rebounds. Randolph was 4-of-12 from the field and didn't even get a foul shot. Gasol hurt OKC at the foul line, eight of nine, but Brooks played Kendrick Perkins only 17 minutes, and sometimes Perk guarded Randolph. Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and even Kevin Durant took turns on Gasol. Durant had Gasol down the stretch and did an adequate job.
REBOUNDING: A. A game after getting hammered on the boards, the Thunder was astoundingly good in Game 3. The Grizzlies had only three second-chance points and four offensive rebounds. Somehow, in a game in which the Thunder shot 33.3 percent from the field, it still outrebounded Memphis 51-44.
TOWEL EFFECT: C. Instead of T-shirts resting on each seat, fans were greeted with a yellow “We Don't Bluff” towel, referencing Randolph's “I don't bluff” response to his conflict with Perkins in November. Nice change of pace from the usual playoff fare of all the fans in the same color. Alas, the towels weren't put to much use. A couple of solid towel-waving moments, but Three Rivers Stadium this wasn't.
PAINT SHOOTING: D. The Thunder made just 11 of 27 shots in the paint. Ibaka missed two dunks, virtually uncontested. Most of the other Thunder misses were amid the Gasol International Forest. But still. The Thunder has got to be more productive on shots close to the basket.