Thunder Hit Rock Bottom, Grizzlies Win 115-103 in Memphis
The Oklahoma City Thunder (43-31) were embarrassed on Monday night in Memphis, falling to the Mike Conley-less Grizzlies by a final score of 115-103. The loss was the Thunder’s fifth in the last six games, and sends OKC back to 8th in the Western Conference. The Thunder’s All-Star duo of Paul George and Russell Westbrook couldn’t get much going in this one, combining for 46 points on a less-than-stellar 16-of-49 (32.6 percent) from the floor. With the Grizzlies missing a majority of their roster, household name Bruno Caboclo led the way with a career-high 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including 4-of-7 from three. All five Memphis starters reached double-figures in scoring — including 21 for Dorsey and 18 points, 14 rebounds for Jonas Valancunias.
The visiting Thunder came out flat in the first quarter, allowing Memphis to start the game on a 16-2 run. The Grizzlies made their first seven attempts from the field, including two three-pointers. OKC settled in and closed the gap as the quarter continued, trailing 23-31 after one.
Oklahoma City briefly took the lead to start the second, using an 18-4 run from the end of the first quarter after Nerlens Noel’s tip-slam put the Thunder on the high side at the 8:21 mark. The defense improved — holding the Grizzlies to just 20 percent from the floor in the quarter, but the Thunder simply couldn’t put the ball in the bucket. George and Westbrook combined for 6-of-26 (23.1 percent) from the floor in the first half, with the Thunder as a whole shooting 34.7 percent. OKC couldn’t capitalize on a handful of transition opportunities in the closing minutes of the half, as George and Westbrook were unable to convert a two-on-one alley-oop attempt. OKC trailed by six at the break.
Similar to the opening frame, the tanking Grizzlies got out to a 9-0 run to start the third, capped by a Jonas Valanciunas’s layup with 10:27 on the clock. Memphis saw their lead explode to 18 points after Justin Holiday’s back-to-back three-pointers at the 6:23 mark. Instead of folding up the tent, the Thunder crawled back with a 12-0 run led by a three separate Westbrook lay-ups, with his and-one at the 4:24 mark cutting the Thunder deficit to six. Westbrook scored 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the quarter, but the Grizzlies led 86-78 after three.
A pair of Terrance Ferguson corner threes brought the Thunder back to within single digits midway through the fourth, but the Thunder ultimately couldn’t close the gap. Tyler Dorsey’s three with 4:41 remaining put the Grizzlies up 13 and they didn’t look back. As a whole, the Thunder shot 38.1 percent in the fourth and fell to the Grizzlies by a final score of 103-115.
Been Here Before: For the second season in a row, the Thunder find themselves with a struggling Paul George post-All-Star break. Last year, PG shot 38.5 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from deep over the Thunder’s final 23 games. It’s been an eerily similar second half for George in 2019, as he came into tonight shooting 39.1 percent from the floor and 32.8 percent from three over the 13 games he’s played in since the break. The field goal percentage will get worse after going 10-of-29 (34.5 percent) from the floor and 5-of-15 (33.3 percent) from deep tonight. He finished with a game-high 30 points, but it was far from a solid outing for PG.
Five Of Six: Coming off what felt like a potentially season-saving win in Toronto on Friday night, the Thunder laid an egg in Memphis. As OKC inches closer to the postseason, it’s difficult to feel optimistic about the team’s chances after dropping five of their last six games. The Thunder are now 6-11 since the All-Star break.
Schroder & Ferg: The Thunder received a big boost from their role players tonight, as Dennis Schroder and Ferguson provided a shot of life on the offensive end. Schroder scored 25 points off the bench on an efficient 9-of-14 from the field, including 2-of-4 from downtown. Ferguson chipped in 13 points and was a perfect 3-of-3 from beyond the arc.
Where’d The Offense Go?: Since the All-Star break, the Thunder entered tonight averaging a field goal percentage of 42.5 percent while shooting 33.2 percent from deep. Even though it was completely unsustainable and shouldn’t by any means be looked at as the norm, OKC averaged 120.6 points per game in the month of January on a blistering 46.7 percent from the floor and 40.4 percent from three. Defense is the Thunder’s organizational calling card, but the offense has to hold up its end of the bargain too. They shot 20-of-43 from long range on Friday night in Toronto, but came crashing back down to earth with a 12-of-36 effort in tonight’s loss.
Billy is upset: