Sometimes basketball is like programming: you work diligently to get rid of all the bugs, and suddenly there are fresh new bugs. After dropping a close one in Oklahoma City to the Grizzlies, the Thunder went to work on getting fast-break points when possible, and offensive rebounds when not. And that’s what they did, or tried to do, today in Memphis. What they forgot to do was actually score. They trailed most of the game; just inside the two-minute mark, they managed to tie it at 81 on yet another unexpected Derek Fisher trey, but that was the end of it, while the Don’t Care Bears calmly dropped in half a dozen free throws to take Game 3, 87-81.
And speaking of free throws, OKC went 12-19. They missed seven. Two of those bricks came from Kevin Durant during that closing 6-0 Memphis burst. It’s almost like learning to get points in the paint made them forget how to get points from the stripe. Nobody wins a playoff game with 36-percent shooting. To their credit, the Thunder did try to coax Serge Ibaka out of his offensive slump; the big guy missed his first three, but did eventually come up with 13 points to go with his 10 rebounds. KD had a reasonably KDish day, despite those two last-minute clanks: 25 points, 11 retrievals. And what’s this? Reggie Jackson with a double-double: 16 points, 10 boards, and only a single turnover. Kevin Martin voted Present with 13 of the bench’s total 23.
What kind of game was this? Tayshaun Prince was relatively subdued (two points, four boards, no blocks), Zach Randolph had a lousy day by Z-Bo standards (eight points, though he did snag ten rebounds), Marc Gasol (20 points) actually got fouls called on him, and Griz shooting was less than stellar at just over 40 percent. But this is the telltale statistic: Memphis went 30-74 from the floor, OKC 32-88. When 14 additional shots get you only five additional points, as Scott Brooks is sure to mention some time this evening, you’re doing it wrong.
Game 4 is Monday night in the Fed Up Forum. The Oklahoman sports dudes (I include Jenni Carlson among the dudes, because why not?) generally think it’s Memphis in six. I’m starting to think it might be Memphis in five.