For the fair-weather Thunder fan, the time to change the channel was at halftime, after OKC rode a 39-point second quarter to a twenty-point lead, 73-53. After that, the Grizzlies proved nearly unstoppable; with five minutes left, they were down only one. The Thunder pushed back to an eight-point lead, but the Griz were back to within one literally in the last minute. Carmelo Anthony hoisted a trey at 0:25 to stretch the lead to four; Russell Westbrook, who assisted on that trey, jumped about 12 feet above the court to spoil the next Memphis possession. Andrew Harrison fouled out near the very end, sending Westbrook to the charity stripe; Harrison, the Griz’ leading scorer — 10-16 for 28 points, a career high — grumbled a bit about that sixth foul and was hit with his second technical. (Apparently Harrison was subsequently escorted out of the building.) Westbrook duly hit the tech, and that was it: OKC 121, Memphis 114, 3-0 for the season.
Westbrook did rather a lot tonight, climbing back into the rarefied heights of Triple-Double Land, with a 23-13-15 line. Paul George, as usual, did the heaviest lifting on the scoreboard with 28; that Melo trey gave him 19. The Thunder bench, quiet against Cleveland, scrounged up 40 points. Tyreke Evans came second to Harrison with 23. Chandler Parsons was back in limited action, five points in 12 minutes, and I got the distinct impression he was glad to have ’em. Memphis led 50-36 in points in the paint; during that third quarter, in which the Griz outscored OKC 31-19, it seemed like they were just marching in unison to the basket.
And that’s the first half of the season, if you figure 59 is half of 82. All-Star folderol comes next.