Thunder coach Scott Brooks was particularly pleased with his team's defensive intensity Thursday night in a 106-89 victory over Memphis at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Defense was a team aspect that appeared only in spurts during the team's six-game road trip it had just completed.
Memphis shot 34.7 percent from the field against OKC. However, if you take away the third quarter – when they scored 33 points and shot 56.0 percent – the Grizzlies managed just 56 points and shot 27.4 percent from the field the other three periods.
“We couldn't make no shots,” said Memphis All-Star power forward Zach Randolph, who was held scoreless in the first half (0 for 9 from the field) and finished 4 for 17 with nine points. “The double-team was packing in on the paint.”
OKC ranks third in the league in field-goal percentage defense (.430), third in opponent adjusted field-goal percentage (.474) and eighth in 3-point percentage defense (.347).
CROSSING THE LINE
Three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant (.910) and teammate Kevin Martin (.904) rank 1-2 in the NBA in free-throw percentage and apparently they're having some fun with their race.
With 2.2 seconds left in the first quarter, Martin missed the first of two free throws. Seated on the bench, Durant smiled at Martin and jokingly said, “Nice try.”
Martin smiled back.
Martin buried the second free throw and when the quarter ended, Durant walked out and greeted a still smiling Martin with a high-five.
Martin said he suffered a bruised left hip late in the first quarter after a collision with Memphis defender Chris Johnson.
Though obviously bothered by the injury throughout the game, Martin still played 29 minutes and scored 16 points.
Martin is expected to play Saturday at Cleveland.
With new acquisitions Tayshaun Prince, Ed Davis and Austin Daye yet to be cleared from a Wednesday trade involving leading scorer Rudy Gay, the Grizzlies had just nine available players against the Thunder. One of them was center Jon Leuer, who was acquired eight days earlier and made only his second appearance with his new team, playing 4½ minutes.
Memphis players were pleased with their performance, given the circumstances.
“I was proud of the way we still fought,” point guard Mike Conley said. “We have had a lot of things go on in the last 24 hours and to play such a good team with seven, eight guys – it is tough. I am glad we held our heads high and came out there and gave them what we had.”
With the victory over Memphis coming off Sunday's loss at the Los Angeles Lakers, the Thunder improved to 10-1 in “bounce-back” games following a loss this season. OKC is 45-10 (.818) in bounce-back games since 2010-11, second only to Chicago (46-8). … The Thunder shot 55.6 percent against the Grizzlies and is now 16-0 when shooting 50 percent or better from the field this season. Only San Antonio (19-0) has a better record shooting 50 percent. … With the Memphis result, OKC is now 11-0 when its opponent shoots less than 40 percent and 10-0 when it blocks 10-plus shots.
Thunder reserve forward Nick Collison on defending the 6-foot-9, 260-poundish Randolph: “Yeah, it's a challenge. It's definitely a challenge. … He's one of the toughest in the league to match up against. He's so much more physical than anybody else you play.”
BY JOHN ROHDE