Oklahoma City Thunder Stunned at Home by Grizzlies

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:22 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: May 1, 2011 3:1 PM CDT

Corey DeMoss
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Thunder was supposed to come into its second-round series with the Memphis Grizzlies as the more prepared and energized team, but things did not work out that way.

The Grizzlies outplayed the Thunder in virtually every facet of the game and handed Oklahoma City its first home loss of the playoffs 114-101.

The Thunder had no answer for Grizzlies big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, both of whom finished with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. Randolph has been one of the stars of the Western Conference Playoffs, and he set a new playoff career high with 34 points.

Oklahoma City also struggled with bouts of sloppiness on the offensive end. The Thunder committed a total of 18 turnovers – 11 more than the Grizzlies – which led to 23 points the other way. OKC also failed to outscore the Grizzlies in any quarter.

Memphis performed well in the first quarter, but really began to take over in the second. The Grizzlies built a 16-point lead late in the first half, and the Thunder had to go on a 7-1 run to end the half in order to make it 57-47 going into the locker room.

Oklahoma City continued that momentum at the beginning of the second half, going on an 11-4 run to cut the lead down to three. But Memphis kept its composure and responded with a 9-0 run of its own to stretch the lead back to double digits.

The Grizzlies led by 13 heading into the fourth quarter and then went on another run to stretch the advantage to 17, their largest of the game. The Thunder went on two separate runs to draw within seven, but could never come any closer. Memphis hit free throws late to seal the outcome.

The Grizzlies finished with better numbers in almost every statistical category. They had a better field goal percentage, more rebounds, more assists and more steals. They even shot better from the free-throw line, which normally is one of the Thunder’s biggest strengths.

Kendrick Perkins played his first game against the Grizzlies since being acquired from the Boston Celtics, and his presence made little impact. He had just two points and six rebounds in 29 minutes on the court, and he regularly was slow on his defensive rotations.

Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 33 points, despite taking fewer shots than teammate Russell Westbrook. Westbrook shot just 9-of-23 from the floor and committed seven turnovers with six assists.

The Thunder had two extra days of rest after its last series, and the Grizzlies had only 36 hours to prepare since beating the No. 1 seed San Antonio Spurs in the first round. But Memphis showed no signs of tiring, and became the first No. 8 seed to ever beat a No. 1 seed in a seven-game series in the first round and then win Game 1 of the second round.

The two teams will resume play at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at Oklahoma City Arena. In order to advance to the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder now will need to win four of the next six games of the series, three of which will occur in Memphis.