Final Score: Oklahoma City Thunder – 104 Memphis Grizzlies – 84 (Series Tied 3-3)
*”Mr. Unreliable” was the headline in today’s Oklahoman. It was directed at Kevin Durant, who hasn’t been quite so Durant-like in this series. After criticism from just about everyone, the Oklahoman admitted that it was a bad headline and apologized.
*”Mr. Unreliable” went 11/23 from the field, 14/15 from the free throw line, and scored a game high 36 points in a Oklahoma City Thunder route to force a game seven on Saturday.
*Durant set the tone early. He took the first four shots for the team and scoring 10 of the teams first 14 points. He took 10 shots in the first quarter and got to the line twice. OKC led 25-17 after one and never looked back.
*To go along with a stellar offense that scored 56 points, OKC’s defense allowed just 41 Grizzlies points. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol got their points, but OKC limited Mike Conley and the rest of the Grizzlies perimeter players.
*Both teams started cold in the third quarter until Westbrook decided to take matters into his own hands and attack. It resulted in him getting to the line for four shots and an assist on a Kendrick Perkins basket on four trips. Westbrook scored 12 of the Thunder’s 26 points in the 3rd.
*OKC led 82-61 after three, but Scott Brooks kept the starters in to make sure the Grizzlies didn’t mount a comeback.
*Even though the OKC starters didn’t exactly finish off the Grizzlies on offense, they held them in check on defense to ensure that there would be no comeback.
*When OKC needed to their biggest stars in a must-win game, their two biggest stars delivered.
*As mentioned, Durant set the tone early and everyone else followed suit. The only criticism I have on him in this game was that he went 0/6 from three. That’s forgivable though, because he shot 15 free throws.
*I wrote about OKC and their inability to stop shooting the three, but I honestly don’t mind if Durant and Westbrook are going to take threes as long as they balance it out with free throws. A 2:1 ratio would be ideal. Tonight they shot 21 free throws and eight threes. You see the results.
*Along with Durant, Westbrook was on his game. He played in control, attacked, and had a good shot selection.
*More impressive than the OKC offense was their defense. As good as Durant and Westbrook are when they have the ball, they can sometimes become lazy on defense. That wasn’t the case in this game. They defended hard on every possession and limited Mike Conley and Tayshaun Prince to five points.
*The Grizzlies shot 37% from the field. Even worse, they went 19/28 from the free throw line.
*Conley in particular had a night to forget. He had five points on 2/10 shooting and left the game with a knee injury and did not return. His status for game seven is still up in the air.
*Scott Brooks actually adjusted his lineup. He benched Thabo Sefolosha and started Caron Butler. And it paid off. Butler only scored seven points, but he defended just as good as Thabo would’ve, if not better. The biggest thing the change did though was give the Thunder options on offense. With Thabo, teams can play off of him because he’s not much of an offensive threat, especially when he’s not hitting from three, which has been the case all series. Butler is a much more reliable three point shooter and can put the ball on the floor.
*Randolph and Gasol scored 16 and 17 points respectively, but I thought Perkins and Serge Ibaka once again did a nice job on them. Perkins the subject of a lot criticism in OKC, but he’s shown his value in this series.
*HE ALSO SCORED SIX POINTS ON 75% SHOOTING!
*Reggie Jackson once again provided the spark off the bench, scoring 16 points and going 4/5 from three.
*The biggest spark from the bench may’ve come from Steven Adams though. He had five blocks and played strong post defense on whomever he was matched up against.
*Steve Kerr wondered where Adams has been this series. The answer is on the bench because Scott Brooks doesn’t like playing young guys in the playoffs. Maybe he learned that young guys like Adams and Jeremy Lamb can contribute if they’re given a chance. Adams proved that tonight. It’d be nice if Lamb got that same opportunity.
*The work isn’t over for OKC though. As nice as this win was, there’s still one more game in this series and Memphis is 2-1 at The Peake.