Thunder-Grizzlies: OKC might as well defend because Memphis certainly is

COMMENTARY — Memphis’ mediocre offense exposed the Thunder’s defensive woes in a 111-105 overtime loss. Now things get really tough.
by Berry Tramel Published: April 22, 2014


photo - Memphis' Tony Allen (9) and Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka (9) try to grab a loose ball during Game 2 in the first round of the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Monday, April 21, 2014. Memphis won 111-105 in overtime. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Memphis' Tony Allen (9) and Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka (9) try to grab a loose ball during Game 2 in the first round of the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Monday, April 21, 2014. Memphis won 111-105 in overtime. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

This just in. The Memphis Grizzlies play some defense. Tony Allen has taken up residence inside Kevin Durant’s No. 35 jersey. Mike Conley stays in front of his man. Marc Gasol was the reigning NBA defensive player of the year until Monday.

The Grizzlies guard you.

Which means the Thunder better do it, too.

Memphis reversed momentum in this Western Conference playoff series with a 111-105 overtime victory over the Thunder on Monday night, and the Grizzlies did it as much with offense as their beloved defense.

The numbers for the offensively-challenged Grizzlies had to sober up the Thunder: 99 points in regulation, 56 points in the paint, 49.4 percent shooting, baskets on three of their first four possessions of overtime, an easy layup on the game’s pivotal possession.

This game was easy to decipher. The Grizzlies got easier shots than did the Thunder, and even with a magic man like Durant, that will get you beat in the NBA playoffs.

“In the first half, I thought we were a step behind in a lot of plays,” said Scotty Brooks. “We were chasing the basketball instead of containing it. We made some adjustments in the third quarter, then the fourth quarter was a shootout.”

Things got so bad, Foreman Scotty went back to his starting lineup to finish the game, which he rarely has done over the years. The final five minutes of regulation, Brooks used his defensive-heavy starting lineup, except for the 18 seconds, when the Thunder trailed by five and needed offense.

And Brooks stuck with his starters the first 2:42 of overtime, until Kendrick Perkins fouled out.

Don’t blame Brooks. He was tired of a mediocre offense carving up his squad. Point guards Mike Conley and Beno Udrih routinely zipped past the Thunder’s perimeter defenders, Zach Randolph found his shooting touch and Mike Miller got loose for three 3-pointers in just four attempts, including a go-ahead trey from the top of the key when Memphis trailed 93-92 with 53.7 seconds left.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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