Game 3 of Thunder-Grizzlies was a remarkable repeat of Game 2, down to a vaunted Thunder rally sparked by a four-point play and overtime domination by Memphis. And the grades reflect the Thunder’s game-long struggles.
Outside shooting: F. The Thunder shot an horrific five of 28 from 3-point range, but that wasn’t the half of it. The Thunder wasn’t making outside shots of any length. OKC missed its first 15 shots from beyond 10 feet; eight of those were 3-pointers. For the game, the Thunder made just nine of 43 shots outside 10 feet, helped by 5-of-28 from 3-point range.
Defensive specialists: A. Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins were excellent. The Thunder outscored Memphis by 12 in Thabo’s 301/2 minutes on the court and outscored the Grizzlies by nine in Perkins’ 34 minutes. Perkins was the primary defender on Zach Randolph, who made just five of 20 shots. Thabo drew the assignment on Mike Conley, who started slowly on offense, though he picked it up late. And each scored seven points, combining to make five of six shots, which is a big bonus for OKC.
Towel effect: B. The Grizzlies prefer yellow towels for each seat over T-shirts. And it’s not a bad idea. The shirts make for a cool scene, but it’s not all that convenient for fans who have to wear an extra layer in a hot arena. The towels can be a great scene, too, if they’re waved in unison. But the full wave didn’t happen all that much, even when the Grizzlies were on a roll.
Foul shooting: C. The Thunder made 22 of 30, 73.3 percent, which isn’t awful. But Kevin Durant made just 10 of 13 and Russell Westbrook eight of 12, both well below their standards. Westbrook’s penultimate miss ended all hope – down four points with 0.9 seconds left in overtime, Westbrook was awarded three foul shots. He wanted to make the first two and miss the second, but when the second bounced off, the Thunder was done.
Defending the point: C. Memphis’ two point guards again were effective. Conley finished with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting, with five rebounds and three assists. Beno Udrih torched the Thunder again, with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting. But at least the Thunder pressured the points more. Conley had four turnovers and Udrih three.
Star power: B. A music city like Memphis can draw some well-known acts. And so it did Thursday. Larry Dodson and the Bar-Kays, a renowned blues group from the 1960s through the 1980s, sang the national anthem. And Tag Team, the one-hit wonder hip-hop duo from the 1990s, performed at halftime that solitary hit, “Whoomp.” You might not think you know it, but you do. Not exactly Oklahoma City’s taste, but both played well to the Grizzlies fans.
Grit: A. A thousand things to shake your head about in this game. But give the Thunder this. This team doesn’t quit. Down 17 with 71/2 minutes left, down four with 30 seconds left in regulation, even down four with 1.7 seconds left in overtime. The Thunder doesn’t quit. Grind? OK, that’s Memphis’ domain. But grit? The Thunder has grit.
Bench: F. The Thunder reserves have gone vamoose. They combined for just nine points on 4-of-18 shooting. Only Nick Collison played well. Caron Butler and Reggie Jackson were ineffective for the second straight game. The plus/minuses were ugly – OKC was outscored by 13 during Butler’s 22 minutes, by 10 during Jackson’s 181/2 minutes, by 10 during Collison’s 161/2 minutes and by eight during Derek Fisher’s 151/2 minutes.