Actually, Hasheem Thabeet didn’t score a point tonight, but he didn’t really have to: he snagged nine rebounds and blocked four shots, both career highs, in 23 minutes as the Memphis Grizzlies edged the Oklahoma City Thunder, 86-84. While all five Griz starters average in double figures, they won this one with serious defense — and a 20-foot jumper by Rudy Gay with 1.3 seconds left, which Kevin Durant tried to trump with a trey at the buzzer.
How close was it? The Thunder shot barely over 40 percent; the Griz shot just under 40. Each side put up more than a dozen treys, but neither got more than four to fall. The Thunder got 46 rebounds, 13 offensive; the Grizzlies 42, 11 offensive. But the Grizzlies kept getting second-chance points, while the Thunder were too often one-and-done.
Gay and Zack Randolph led the Griz with 25 points each; Marc Gasol contributed a double-double, 15 points and 13 boards. The Memphis bench managed only two points, but Thabeet, I figure, made up for that.
Russell Westbrook, having vowed to kick in $1000 for Haiti relief for every point he scored, will be writing a check for $8000. Jeff Green checked in with 15; Kid Delicious finished with 30. And James Harden continues to play sharpshooter, logging 13 points on a mere six shots and four free throws. But there was no getting past the Grizzlies tonight, and the season series is now even at 1-1.
On the upside, 2-1 is not a bad way to get through the first three games of a road trip. But the fourth is (1) tomorrow (2) against Cleveland, and King James will be waiting.