Oklahoma City Thunder 100, Memphis Grizzlies 86 - Thunder leads series, 1-0
Basketball may be a game of runs, but this is ridiculous.
The Oklahoma City Thunder nearly blew a 22-point halftime lead by stepping off the gas pedal in the third quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies. Then, just as quickly, the Thunder turned up the intensity in the fourth quarter and cruised over the last few minutes to a 100-86 win.
Oklahoma City stepped on Memphis' throat from the opening tip, starting the game on an 8-0 run. The Big Three of Russell Westbrook (15 points), Kevin Durant (14 points) and Serge Ibaka (13 points) demolished Memphis in the first half. Meanwhile, the Thunder held Memphis to 5-of-29 shooting in the first—the worst shooting quarter in the history of their franchise, according to the ESPN broadcast.
The Grizzlies' first-quarter shot chart (via SB Nation) looked like a tic-tac-toe game gone haywire, hemorrhaging x's all over the place.
Oklahoma City stretched its lead to 22 points at halftime thanks to more stifling defense. The Thunder blocked eight shots in the first half—three from Steven Adams, two apiece from Ibaka and Nick Collison, and one from Reggie Jackson. The Thunder hounded Memphis shooters all the way out past the three-point line in an impressive display of swarming perimeter defense.
But the Grizzlies came out like a whole new team after the break. They quickly brought the deficit back to within single digits with a 17-4 run to open the third quarter.
As the Grizzlies charged, the Thunder tightened, particularly on offense. They managed a scant 13 points in the third quarter as Memphis closed to within four.
Memphis did manage to get that deficit down to two, but the Thunder seemingly flipped a switch down the stretch. Ibaka, Jackson, Derek Fisher, Westbrook and Durant all hit shots midway through the fourth quarter as Oklahoma City quickly got their lead back into double digits.
Kevin Durant, Thunder: 33 Pts, 7 Ast, 8 Reb
Russell Westbrook, Thunder: 23 Pts, 5 Ast, 10 Reb
Serge Ibaka, Thunder: 17 Pts, 9 Reb
Zach Randolph, Grizzlies: 21 Pts, 11 Reb
Mike Conley, Grizzlies: 16 Pts, 5 Reb, 11 Ast
Marc Gasol, Grizzlies: 16 Pts, 6 Reb, 4 Ast
The Thunder will host Memphis for Game 2 on Monday at 8:00 p.m. ET. The action will be nationally televised on TNT.
If anything, this Game 1 might have been helpful for the Thunder. They received an important reminder that no playoff game can be taken for granted, while at the same time coming away with the victory.
As for the Grizzlies, they now understand that Oklahoma City is far too explosive of an opponent for them to come out of the gate so flat. They must bring that third-quarter intensity for 48 minutes, or the favored Thunder will make quick work of them in Game 2.