Hey, it’s the Grizzlies, and that always means a hockey game with hoops. Examples: It took a 15-4 run at the beginning of the fourth quarter to put OKC in front after thirty minutes of trailing. What’s more, both teams hit the foul limit within six and a half minutes of that quarter. And with 1:20 left, it was tied at 94-all, at which point Kevin Durant had had enough: not only did he score seven points in the last minute, but he was instrumental in making sure the Griz didn’t score at all. The 101-94 win was the third straight over Memphis, salting away the season series.
Durant, who got no rebounds in the first half, wound up with 10, to go with 36 points and three blocks. And Daequan Cook apparently has made the case for himself as the appropriate starter in the absence of Thabo Sefolosha: he didn’t generate a ton of offense, but he had seven rebounds and, yes, three blocks. With DC-14 starting, James Harden is back being the quintessential sixth man: he got 24 of the bench’s 27 points. (If this sounds alarming, consider that the Griz reserves got a total of 15, 13 from O. J. Mayo.) Russell Westbrook, despite early frustration that earned him a technical, finished with 21. And speaking of Ts, Kendrick Perkins is up to nine.
The Griz, of course, weren’t out of it until that last minute. Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay were pretty fearsome up front, scoring 47 between them, and Tony Allen, despite playing most of the last quarter with five fouls, was good for 17. And Memphis had the edge in almost all the off-box numbers: points in the paint, second-chance points, fast-break points. What they didn’t have, apparently, was an answer when Kevin Durant shifted into high(er) gear.
And now: five on the road, the middle three on the Left Coast. It’s going to be one seriously ferocious week, even without having to play the Grizzlies again until April.