Skip to content

Grizzlies continue impressive start with road win over Thunder

Nov 14, 2012, 11:30 PM EDT

Marc Gasol Zach Randolph AP

The Memphis Grizzlies look like a team ready to compete in the postseason. The Thunder look like a team still searching for answers.

The result of the meeting between these two teams reflected that on Wednesday, as Memphis had little trouble in cruising to a convincing 107-97 win in Oklahoma City.

When we last saw the Grizzlies, they were blowing out the defending champion Heat by 18 points. In OKC, the result against the team Miami beat in the Finals last June was essentially the same, after Memphis spotted the home team a 10-point first quarter lead.

It all began to go wrong for the Thunder in the second quarter, once the bench unit couldn’t seem to manufacture any offense, and couldn’t even begin to stop the Grizzlies defensively. Memphis, which has won six straight since an opening-game loss, outscored OKC 36-15 in the period, led by 11 from Quincy Pondexter behind 3-of-3 shooting from three-point distance.

Kevin Martin played all 12 minutes of the second, and managed just two points. Eric Maynor and Hasheem Thabeet were essentially zeroes on both ends of the court in the few minutes they were out there, and Russell Westbrook had a rough first half from the field, hitting on just one of his eight shots, though he did manage eight assists.

Watching Memphis play you get a very Spurs-like vibe at this point in the young season, in that the execution and ball movement — as well as the rotations defensively — seem to be well ahead of the curve of where most teams are at this early stage.

On the Thunder side, it might seem like lazy analysis to say that they are searching to fill the huge void left by the James Harden trade, but it’s absolutely the truth. Scott Brooks has long been criticized for his lack of creativity in designing offensive sets for this Thunder squad, and now more than ever that weakness is becoming more and more glaring with each passing game.

There is no ball movement and no motion from players away from the ball on the majority of OKC’s possessions; the ball handler is lucky if he gets a screen from a big, and then is forced to execute a pick and roll or drive and kick to someone else. Harden is an exceptional playmaker who can score if he chooses, and his ability to do that, especially playing alongside Kevin Durant and Westbrook with the team’s crunch time lineup, is sorely missed.

Durant finished with 34 points, but he had to play 44 minutes to get there. It was his first 30-point effort on the season. He was nearly matched by Rudy Gay‘s 28, and Memphis got more-than-solid performances from Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.

Randolph and Kendrick Perkins were both ejected with 2:05 to play for what seemed like just words, but the game had already been decided.

Memphis was the sharper and more active team on this night, and it really wasn’t that close. The Grizzlies have the talent to compete with anyone all season long, and have shown it without a doubt in their last two games.

Meanwhile, OKC will need to improve dramatically on both ends of the floor to be considered one of the Western Conference elites once again, but the good news is that they have 73 more regular season games to get themselves straightened out.

Latest Posts
  1. Joakim Noah is happy for LeBron, but hopes Bulls ‘can kick his a– as many times as possible’

    Jul 25, 2014, 7:45 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Joakim Noah continues to be brutally honest when speaking about his team’s competition.

  2. Top 10 dunks of Las Vegas Summer League (VIDEO)

    Jul 25, 2014, 6:46 PM EDT

    Andrew Wiggins AP

    The Andrew Wiggins spin and dunk is a thing of beauty.

  3. Report: Hawks sign Shelvin Mack to three-year, $7.3 million deal

    Jul 25, 2014, 5:14 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Milwaukee Bucks Getty Images

    He is a solid backup to have while Dennis Schroder develops.

  4. Report: Will Cherry drawing interest from Cavaliers, Raptors

    Jul 25, 2014, 3:44 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Will Cherry was fun to watch at Las Vegas Summer League.

  5. Tom Thibodeau considers Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson starters

    Jul 25, 2014, 1:11 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Bulls also must make room for Nikola Mirotic in frontcourt

  6. Dirk Nowitzki plays baseball (VIDEO)

    Jul 25, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Dirk Nowitzki Dirk Nowitzki

    Dirk Nowitzki presents a big strike zone.

  7. Report: NBA wants to avoid massive salary-cap spike

    Jul 25, 2014, 11:11 AM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    New TV deal expected to drastically increase revenue

  8. Newspaper seeks LeBron James beat reporter

    Jul 25, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat - Game Two Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat - Game Two

    Not a Cleveland Cavaliers beat reporter. A LeBron James beat reporter.

  9. Report: Bulls promised not to trade Nikola Mirotic

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:55 AM EDT

    Nikola Mirotic, Gar Forman Nikola Mirotic, Gar Forman

    Rookie big man has been mentioned in Kevin Love trade rumors

  10. Report: Cavaliers leading Kevin Love-trade sweepstakes

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:22 AM EDT

    Kevin Love Kevin Love

    Timberwolves reportedly come to their senses, prefer Andrew Wiggins to Klay Thompson

  11. Report: Francisco Garcia looking at options, including return to Rockets

    Jul 25, 2014, 8:46 AM EDT

    Francisco Garcia AP

    Francisco Garcia opted out of a veteran minimum deal, he will re-sign for a veteran minimum deal.

  12. Spurs’ Matt Bonner brings the championship trophy home to New Hampshire (VIDEO)

    Jul 25, 2014, 12:01 AM EDT

    2014 NBA Finals - Game Five Getty Images

    Bonner is one of a few Spurs teammates taking the trophy on tour this summer.

  13. Sixers sign another injured player, agree to deal with Pierre Jackson

    Jul 24, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Pierre Jackson AP

    Sixers continue their plan of seeking out delayed gratification.

Featured video

Why can't Lakers have a player-coach?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Love (4248)
  2. T. Warren (4104)
  3. L. James (3869)
  4. R. Allen (3572)
  5. A. Wiggins (3358)
  1. K. Bryant (2895)
  2. D. Rose (2821)
  3. E. Bledsoe (2751)
  4. J. Nelson (2611)
  5. C. Anthony (2279)