Dave Joerger, noting that it is, after all, still the preseason, decided to stick with his second string tonight: no Gasol, no Conley, no Z-Bo, no Tony Allen. Not even Tayshaun Prince. Considering that half the Thunder roster is hors de combat, it’s hard to fault Joerger. And the Griz did pretty good in that first quarter, leading 32-23 after twelve. Meanwhile, Scott Brooks’ current version of the Starting Five of Frankenstein — Perry Jones III and Lance Jones up front, Russell Westbrook and Andre Roberson on the wings, Steven Adams in the middle — took a good while to get warmed up, but were fairly awesome when they did: see, for instance, Adams’ 14 points in the second quarter. OKC 60, Memphis 59 at the half, and the redemption of Jeremy Lamb, who came back to life in the second half, brought the Thunder to its second win in Before It Counts, 117-107.
Lamb, in fact, had 23 points, Adams 22, and five others in double figures. (Westbrook had the game’s only double-double: 14 points, 12 assists.) Roberson, alas, continued the Thunder tradition of no actual shooting from the shooting guard, missing all four of his shots. Despite that, OKC shot 53 percent, and if you were wondering if Anthony Morrow would help in the absence of Kevin Durant, look at this line: 5-6 from the floor, 3-4 from outside, 6-6 from the stripe, for 19 points in just over 22 minutes.
Journeyman Quincy Pondexter, gone much of last year, evidently has spent some time working on his 3-ball: he made three of five to lead the Griz with 16 points. Newish guys Jordan Adams and Patrick Christopher carried much of the load towards the end. If Dave Joerger is saying “We do so have a bench,” well, we have to believe him.
Thursday night, it’s off to the Big Easy. Maybe Serge Ibaka will be back by then. Or maybe it won’t be a problem if he isn’t.