Memphis showed a lot of determination and grit but not enough control in the crucial points of the 4th quarter in losing at San Antonio Friday night. Led by O J Mayo and Rudy Gay the Grizzlies actually won a 3rd quarter and showed a lot more patience early in the game in making the extra pass to get easy shots rather than settling for long range jump shots. Mike Conley was on fire shooting 6-7 from the field but was a liability defensively as Roger Mason and George Hill, not to mention the return of Tony Parker, all had their way against the Grizzlies point guards.
Oklahoma Citylost a heart-breaking game at home on a last second shot by former Grizzlies player Mike Miller. Oklahoma City has been led by Kevin Durant and Jeff Green all season but neither player has any inside game leaving the Thunder without any credible interior play. The other problem for the team with the worst record in the NBA is that their backcourt is struggling to make shots. Former Grizz Earl Watson is shooting below 34% and first round draft pick Russell Westbrook is in the same neighborhood. However they are solid defensive players unlike Durant and Green. The Thunder rely completely on the 3 pt shot. Durant, Green and Wilkins all shoot a higher percentage from the arc than the floor and Westbrook isn’t far off.
Shooting Guards:O J Mayo vs Damien Wilkins
Mayo has been incredible so far his rookie year and should easily win the Western Conference rookie of the month after this game. He has scored with amazing ease from inside and outside but hasn’t quite learned how to draw fouls to get to the line. His defense has been spotty as he learns what players like but he still surprises the vets with his quick hands which create turnovers. Wilkinsshould be in his prime at 28 yrs old but is playing like he is much older than that. Wilkins is a good defensive player but far better guarding the SF than a combo guard like Mayo. He is a veteran however and will realize if he can slow down Mayo the Thunder have a real shot at stealing a road win in this game. That just won’t be enough to match O J’s talent.
Power Forwards:Darrell Arthur vsJeff Green
Advantage: Oklahoma City
Centers:Marc Gasol vs Nick Collison
Benches:Memphis vs Oklahoma City