May 4, 2011, 3:59 AM EDT
The Thunder needed a win on Tuesday night, and they got one, 111-102 over the Grizzlies. The Thunder got out to an early lead against the Grizzlies and never looked back, and were able to prevent themselves from having to go into Memphis facing an 0-2 deficit.
The key to the game was the Thunder’s defensive work on Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, who absolutely torched the Thunder from outside and under the basket in Game 1. In Game 2, the two big men combined to shoot 0-5 at the rim, and only shot 2-9 on mid-range jump shots. If the Grizzlies can continue to keep Memphis’ gigantic frontline from doing too much damage against them in this series, there’s a very good chance they will move on to the conference finals.
On the offensive side of things for the Thunder, both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had the kind of performances you expect from them, combining for 50 points on 38 field goal attempts. However, the story of the game for the Thunder may have been their bench play. James Harden poured in 21 points off the bench, and Eric Maynor splashed in three of his four three-point attempts on his way to 15 points. We already know that the Thunder’s best players are better than the Grizzlies’ best players — if the Thunder can play with more depth than the Grizzlies, they’ll be in great shape.
After two games, the key to this series appears pretty simple. If the Grizzlies can control the paint on offense, they can win. If the Thunder can shut down Randolph and Gasol, they will have a major advantage. Memphis got what it wanted — a split in Oklahoma City. Now it’s up to the Thunder to go into Memphis, keep the Grizzly bigs under control, and get home-court advantage back.
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