The Thunder stumbled out of the starting block on Saturday night in Memphis, trailing 34-19 after the first quarter and by as many as 20 in the first half. Oklahoma City shot just 32 percent in the first two quarters, but trimmed the Grizzlies’ lead to 11 at the break — then let the defense do the dirty work.
OKC held Memphis to just nine points in the third quarter, outscoring the Grizzlies 21-9 and taking a one point lead into the final frame. The teams were knotted up at 92-92 as time expired in regulation — with Andrew Harrison blocking a Russell Westbrook three-point attempt that would have won the game.
The Thunder outscored Memphis 10-9 in the extra period, using two key Westbrook free throws and a defensive stand by Carmelo Anthony to escape with a 102-101 victory. Westbrook, Anthony, Steven Adams and Alex Abrines all pitched in 20+ point scoring efforts, accounting for 82 of the team’s 102 total.
Paul George was again inactive due to a calf contusion, but the Thunder did see the return of Jerami Grant. The victory moves OKC to 12-13 on the season, and opens the door for another attempt at reaching .500 when the team returns to action on Monday against the Hornets.
Russ & Melo Underwhelmed
Russell Westbrook notched his eighth triple-double of the season against the Grizzlies, finishing with 20 points, 14 assists, 10 rebounds and just 3 turnovers. He again struggled with his shot, going 7/29 from the field and an atrocious 1/12 from downtown. His field goal percentage has now fallen to just 39 percent on the season, with his three-point percentage sitting at 30 percent.
Carmelo Anthony had a rough night shooting the ball as well, going 7/20 on his way to 21 points and 9 rebounds. He took a number of low quality shots from the mid-range and again looked less than stellar in a two-man attack consisting of he and Westbrook. They’ve combined to shoot 29/96 (30 percent) in the two games without Paul George.
Alex & Steve Save the Day
While the Thunder watched Westbrook and Melo struggle from the field, Alex Abrines and Steven Adams turned in outstanding performances on a combined 14/21 shooting night. Both men logged 43 minutes of action and played pivotal roles in the Thunder comeback.
Adams finished with a final stat line of 21 points and 9 rebounds on 7/11 shooting and 7/12 from the free throw line. He was a perfect 4/4 in a second half that saw the Thunder mount its comeback, and is now averaging 19.8 points on 70 percent shooting in the month of December.
Alex Abrines was a revelation against the Grizzlies, snapping out of a season-long shooting slump to post 20 points on 7/10 from the field. He was a blistering 6/8 from downtown and hit several big shots when the offense couldn’t otherwise find much that worked. His highlights:
PG Sits, Grant Returns. Alex Abrines drew the start in the absence of Paul George, but Jerami Grant returned after missing one game with a hip contusion. He logged just 12 minutes of action and finished with no statistics on 0/3 shooting.
Game of Runs. OKC went on a 13-0 run after falling behind by 20 in the first half — pulling within striking distance before the break. Then — down 8 in the third quarter — the Thunder used a 12-3 run to take a slight advantage.
Nothing is Free. The Thunder again struggled from the free throw line, shooting just 18/31 from the stripe. Memphis couldn’t capitalize, hitting 10/17 of their freebies. Not exactly a clinic on either side.
No Sharing. Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 14 assists, Raymond Felton chipped in four of his own, and that’s where the sharing stopped for OKC. The team finished with 18 assists and eight men received playing time without contributing a single helper.
- OKC won 65-60 on the glass but was outscored 44-34 in the paint.
- The Thunder turned the ball over just 10 times, and forced 15 out of Memphis.
- OKC won 25-16 on the break.
Carmelo Anthony on the victory. Via FSOK.
Steven Adams on the Thunder’s urgency in the third quarter. Via Erik Horne.