Leaving the slaughterhouse behind

The Memphis Grizzlies aren’t predictable, exactly, but they know what works for them: control the pace of the game, and occasionally knock down a shot. Tonight, they knocked down lots of shots, coming back from a ten-point halftime deficit to take a two-point lead after the third quarter. With 2:35 left, Russell Westbrook splashed three free throws to tie it up at 102, which is, let’s face it, a lot of points for a game involving the Grizzlies. Half a minute later, Westbrook dropped in a trey from the left wing to make it 105-102 Thunder; half a minute later, he did it again to make it 108-102. And just inside 1:00, he hit two more free throws; yet another empty Memphis possession, a Westbrook dunk, another empty Memphis possession, and two more free throws. That made it 114-102, and appropriately, Westbrook, after that 15-0 run, got to dribble it out. Thunder 2, Grizzlies 1 for the season with one to go.

And this was despite the Griz landing four starters in double figures. (JaMychal Green did not score, but he did contribute six fouls in 24 minutes.) Marc Gasol was scary in the way only a Gasol can be, collecting 31 points, and Zach Randolph, coming off the bench, delivered a creditable 16. But nothing was going to stop Westbrook, who finished up with 38-13-12, including 17 out of 17 free throws. Nor did it hurt that the OKC bench stepped up big, with Joffrey Lauvergne nailing a season-high 16 and Anthony Morrow reeling in 15.

That was the middle game of a three-game home stand; the last will be Sunday afternoon, against the Portland Trail Blazers. Then Monday evening, they’re off to Indianapolis, where the Pacers have worked themselves into sixth place in the East. Assuming they survive that jaunt, the Thunder will come home to meet the Cavaliers (gasp!) and the Warriors (gasp!!).

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