Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol power Grizzlies past Thunder
Zach Randolph had 34 points and 10 rebounds, Marc Gasol added 20 points and 13 boards, and the Memphis Grizzlies overpowered the Oklahoma City Thunder inside for a 114-101 victory in the opening game of the Western Conference semifinals on Sunday.
Three things went missing Sunday for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In order, they were energy, an edge and any semblance of execution.
One flowed magnificently into the next, forming one giant snowball from which the home team never could dodge and eventually would succumb to.
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The result was a humbling, and at times humiliating, showing in Game 1 of its Western Conference Semifinal. The final scoreboard read Memphis 114, Thunder 101, but not even that spread illustrated how far this was from being a competitive game.
Memphis made such quick work of Oklahoma City the Thunder lost its last lead, a harmless 4-2 advantage, a minute and half into the game. The Grizzlies went on to lead by as many as 17, executing almost effortlessly against a Thunder team that was supposed to be using this postseason to march its way toward elite status.
“We didn't do anything well,” said Thunder forward Nick Collison.
The Thunder had a relatively straightforward strategy. Limit turnovers and control the glass by keeping offensive rebounds out of Memphis' mitts.
That blueprint came courtesy of three butt-whuppings the Grizzlies gave the Thunder during the regular season. In those four meetings, Memphis pulled down 50 offensive rebounds and racked up a 71-51 discrepancy in second-chance points.
Memphis also hounded the Thunder into 16.8 turnovers in those contests, right at its league-leading opponent average.
On Sunday, the Thunder managed to fall prey to those same problems. The Grizzlies scored 23 points off the Thunder's 18 turnovers and poured in 22 second-chance points off 17 offensive rebounds.
“Those are the two keys that we talked about before the game and we didn't do a good job with it,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
The most alarming aspect of Game 1 was the Thunder's defense.
It wasn't just that the Thunder allowed Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol to combine for 54 points and 23 rebounds, or that Oklahoma City watched Memphis flirt with 50 percent shooting for the game. Most disturbing is how the Grizzlies found little trouble getting their first option to go. And when they did, the Thunder rarely matched Memphis' second and third efforts, which led to momentum-swinging second chances and game-changing put-backs.
“With no real preparation, to come in here and play the way we (did) today was a good thing,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said.