Not always pretty, but in the end, effective, as the Thunder beat Memphis 92-89 in overtime, and the grades reflect a wild game.
Brooks rotation: C. Scott Brooks made plenty of solid moves in the first half, knowing when to use his bench, as Reggie Jackson and Caron Butler came to life. But down the stretch of the fourth quarter, as the Grizzlies staged a big comeback, Brooks stuck with the lineup of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson, Serge Ibaka and Caron Butler. The Thunder had corralled Memphis point guards Mike Conley and Beno Udrih all game long, but they began dominating in the fourth quarter. And Brooks didn’t bring back defensive stopper Thabo Sefolosha, who has helped stymie Conley in this series. Conley had eight points and three assists in the fourth quarter alone.
Foul-shooting defense: A. The Grizzlies could have put this game away, but Memphis made just 13 of 23 foul shots. Mike Miller missed two with 3:25 left in overtime and the Grizzlies ahead by one.
Thunder fans: A. Lots of Thunder fans made the trip over – many more than were at FedEx Forum for Game 3 – and they got good seats, too. Tons of Thunder shirts in the lower section. Even some front-row OKC fans.
Basket protection: A. The Thunder’s shot blocking continued. The Thunder rejected 10 shots, the third time in the series OKC has reached double digits in blocks. The Thunder had 10 blocks in Game 1, 10 in Game 2 and six in Game 3. Saturday night, Ibaka had five and Durant two. For the series, Ibaka has 14 blocks, Durant nine, Steven Adams and Nick Collison four each and Jackson, Westbrook and Kendrick Perkins two each.
Deep Thoughts: B. On occasional part of the Grizzlies’ game presentation is “Deep Thoughts, with Zach Randolph,” based on the old Saturday Night Live spoof. Randolph is shown on the video board, scratching his chin while contemplating major issues. Sometimes it’s fun stuff, like this: “I bet when a cow sees a dalmation, he feels really out of shape.” Sometimes not: “I have always thought the worst time to have a heart attack is during a game of charades, especially when teammates are bad guessers.” Not quite so funny.
Three-point game: C. The Thunder again struggled from beyond the arc, making just eight of 28. But a couple of things were different this time. In the first half, the Thunder got some key 3-pointers that ignited the offense – two from Butler, one each from Jackson and Collison. And it’s not like the Thunder was efficient from 2-point range – 25 of 62. Might as well shoot some treys.
Bear wrestling: B. Marc Gasol hurt the Thunder early, with 10 points in the first quarter. Three baskets came against Ibaka, prompting Brooks to change his lineup. And some Kendrick Perkins foul trouble caused Brooks to patch together lineups. But eventually the Thunder wore down Memphis’ big men. Gasol finished with 23 points on 10-of-21 shooting. Randolph finished with 11 points on 5-of-14 shooting.