An advertisement for a detective show on the message board under the official's table at Oklahoma City Arena summed up the feeling of TNT analysts regarding the Thunder's 99-72 victory Wednesday night. It read “Memphis Beat.”
Coming off the Thunder's triple-overtime victory late Monday in Memphis, studio analyst Charles Barkley and game analyst Mike Fratello said they felt the Grizzlies were fatigued.
“Memphis is a young team,” Barkley said, “and psychologically the triple overtime (loss) had a huge impact on them. They came out with no energy. It will be up to Coach Lionel Hollins to get the energy level back up.
“It was a huge advantage for Oklahoma City to come home. These (Oklahoma City and Memphis) probably have the best two crowds in the NBA.”
Barkley and studio analyst Kevin McHale felt the Thunder poured it on late in the game with a flurry of 3-point shots.
“For me, Oklahoma City did a little too much celebrating the last couple minutes,” McHale said. “Lionel Hollins will show them the tape, and the Memphis Grizzlies will win Game 6 back home at the Mailbox. The big fellows will be upset.”
Barkley said he would have taken a hard foul when the Thunder kept firing 3-point shots late in the game.
“I'm going to take a guy into the stands,” he said, “and I'm going to make it look like an accident.”
Said Fratello, “The Thunder just had more energy than the Grizzlies. They got to the ball first.”
*Westbrook, who has received his share of criticism this series, was praised by TNT analyst Kenny Smith at halftime on his “Kenny's Pictures” segment. After showing a video of Westbrook making a long jump shot, Smith showed him passing to James Harden for a slam dunk on a play in which Westbrook could have scored. “Sometimes as a great player you need to get the other guys the basketball because you can get them (your points) yourself.”
*After sideline reporter Marty Snider's report on Kendrick Perkins' tenure as a towering altar boy while growing up in Beaumont, Texas, Fratello had some fun with a picture of Perkins in his altar boy robe. “With that look that he's got, you better ante up when the basket comes around,” he said. “You better make a big contribution with him staring at you like that.”
*In questioning a technical foul on Serge Ibaka for protesting an out-of-bounds call, Fratello said, “Are they trying to turn every player into an altar boy?”
*During an “Inside Trax” segment early in the second quarter, Thunder coach Scott Brooks praised his team's defensive effort. “Guys, defense is fantastic,” he said. “Keep the energy up on the defensive end. Our shorts are going to fall.”
*The game was Turner Broadcasting's 1,000th NBA playoffs telecast in the company's 27 years of covering the league. Turner's first telecast in 1985 featured Barkley, then a Philadelphia 76ers rookie, scoring 17 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in a game against the Washington Bullets.
*In the postgame, Thunder radio broadcaster Matt Pinto noted afternoon thunderstorms in the state “may have been an omen for Lionel Hollins' Memphis Grizzlies.”