First off-congratulations to Dave Joerger for winning the coach of the month for January. Deserved.
Now on to the Durant show.
There were other players involved, but Durant was most responsible for the Grizzlies not only coming back to Earth, but doing it like they were givin’ it their best collective Skylab imitation.
Let’s narrow it down to seven things about this game, although there are certainly more…Thing one: Calathes. Could he reprise his performance from Saturday night? Could he contain Reggie Jackson, who’s been a seldom-mentioned but massively important cog in the Thunder wheel since the Fashionista went down? He tried, but his arsenal is significantly more limited than Conley’s, and that in combination with the Grizzlies’ inability to EVER break Mike Miller as free as he needs to be at this stage of his career made it tough. Calathes found seams and made his best effort to exploit them, but he’s just not quite there yet. On the defensive end, he was great. Just great. Jackson is an underrated penetrator, and Calathes, by and large, kept him from making the Grizzlies look even worse on D in the first half.
Thing two: Rebounding. The Thunder are seventh in the NBA in offensive rebound percentage (per basketball-reference.com), and their opponents have only grabbed 24.5% on the offensive, putting them considerably farther down the table. It’s always fun to watch Gasol, Randolph, Ibaka, and Perkins duke it out….especially when someone starts, uh, bluffin’….and Gasol and ZBo were doing the bluffing this night on the glass. Perkins used his size to get great position, and Ibaka just jumped over the Grizzlies’ heads.
Thing three: Outside shooting. The Thunder do not light up the world from three, but as we know, neither do the Grizzlies. As it turned out, this game was one giant pukefest as far as three-point shooting. A STELLAR 6 of 34 for both teams combined. Whoof, that’s awful. And the Grizzlies sure showed the Thunder that they could out-stink them from distance, with an absolutely terrible 2-of-16. Lee and Miller were both afforded several open looks, but things were just not going down.
Thing four: Oh, yeah, I knew I was forgetting something. Good Lord Kevin Durant is good. Now, I love Mike Conley-but the second pick in that 2007 draft sure would have been nice. He did to Prince and the Grizzlies what he does to every team-went baseline, pulled up, and went to the hoop. There is no answer in the world for this guy.
Thing five: Ed Davis. As his minutes have fluctuated, his performance has suffered. Can’t blame the guy, but he, Koufos, and most of all Leuer have felt the effects of the return of Marc Gasol. His short stint in the first half was punctuated by a BEAUTIFUL dish to Koufos off a pick-and-roll. To use a currently popular phrase, though, OKC had built a “ring of steel” around the rim, preventing Davis and his teammates from getting too close to that orange-painted thingy. Not sure what happened in the second half, but no Leuer and no Davis. I think we’ve all seen that Davis has performed better when given more consistent minutes, and it’s just not happening. Hope it doesn’t get into his head.
Thing six: Heck, they held the mighty Thunder under 90, and held them to 35 measly points in the second half. They picked up the pick and rolls a TON better in the second half after going the matador route in the first two quarters. The Grizzlies only committed 11 turns for the game, while forcing 16. All hallmarks of a Grizz victory, except….
Thing seven: …defeat by offensive drought. The Grizzlies scored only 77 on the night, which is not good. Not at all. As in horrendous, unconscionably bad, junkalicious. Gotta hand it to the Thunder D-Brooks and Co. have been watching old Spurs/Grizz game tape and knew EXACTLY when and from what angles to front Gasol and ZBo. And when they fronted the big guys, the perimeter guys were lookin’ around for Mike Conley like they were a bunch of lost puppies. Randolph and Gasol combined for 26 and 16, which either of them could singly produce on a good day.
All good streaks come to an end, and YET ANOTHER “biggest game of the season” awaits the Grizzlies Wednesday at the Forum.