By now, everyone has figured it out: the Memphis Grizzlies are fierce, and at the FedEx Forum they’re more so. The Thunder learned this last season, losing three of four, and got a refresher course in the playoffs, where it took seven games to subdue the Don’t Care Bears. The last meeting was 28 December, which OKC somehow won by three points, 98-95, despite Russell Westbrook having the Worst. Night. Ever. Tonight, Westbrook exploded for 30 points, and for good measure blocked a shot with 20 seconds left, and OKC somehow won by five points, 100-95.
We learned one thing: Marreese Speights, acquired from the Sixers, is no Zach Randolph, but he’s no slouch either, coming up with 10 points, one of six Grizzlies in double figures. Mike Conley, who played only a few seconds in that December game, was in good form, and Marc Gasol continues to be Marc Gasol. Rudy Gay, unfortunately for the Griz, wasn’t very Rudy Gay, hitting only 7 of 21 and missing four of five from the line.
With Westbrook running amok, Reggie Jackson saw limited minutes, but he’s probably not complaining, and he had two steals, as many as the rest of the team combined. Both Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Durant had free passes to Rebound City, Perk reeling in 13 and KD snagging 11 to go with 22 points. And then there’s Thabo Sefolosha, offensive machine, who knocked down three treys in three tries. You gotta love the idea of an elite defenseman who can shoot the long ball, right?
The Thunder have to play the Griz twice more this season, but at least they’ll have Loud City on their side. Not that Memphis is going to notice. For now, though, the more immediate issue, and by “immediate” I mean “tomorrow,” there’s a trip to New Orleans, where the Hornets, having taken out their frustrations on the Nuggets last night, should be well rested and anxious to prove a point — though what I want to know is whether Eric Gordon has recovered from that bruised right knee.