The Memphis Grizzlies came to town, and they came to be as Grizzly as they possibly could, because that’s what they do; you have to wonder sometimes if maybe Quentin Tarantino is drawing up the plays. “An absolute grind,” muttered radio guy Matt Pinto during a fourth-quarter timeout, and he wasn’t kidding: to the extent possible, the Griz will simply wear you down. The Thunder know; they have to play these guys three or four times every season, and it almost always happens this way: up eleven at the half, they couldn’t find any way to create any serious distance between themselves and Memphis. (Last time they played was the exception that proves the rule: the Griz simply ground them into sausage and claimed an easy win.) OKC finally got a break with just over a minute left: Steven Adams delivered a fearsome swat, and Victor Oladipo turned it into three points, opening the Thunder lead to seven. Shortly thereafter, Jerami Grant saved a Russell Westbrook fumble and came up with an and-one, providing some breathing room, and the last 15 seconds took about 15 minutes to play, the Griz fighting on every single possession, because that’s what they do. Oklahoma City 103, Memphis 95 at the horn, evening up the season series at 1-1.
If anything stands out here, it was the Thunder’s ability to contain Marc Gasol, who was held to a mere nine points, around half his average. Then again, they couldn’t stop Mike Conley (22 points) or Chandler Parsons (14 points in 18 minutes). And Enes Kanter was Kanterlike in his insistence, conjuring up 19 points and retrieving 13 rebounds. For the “Did Westbrook get a triple-double?” fans, the answer is Yes: 24-13-12 despite shooting a sub-meh 6-19 from the floor. The Thunder shot only 45 percent overall, but the Griz were under 40 most of the night and finished at 41.
That long six-game road trip begins in Minnesota on Friday; I bet the Twin Cities have better weather than we do.