Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks likes that his team didn’t make excuses for its poor play in Memphis earlier this week. He’d like it even more if his team could beat the Grizzlies this time.
Tied atop the Northwest Division standings thanks to a Memphis victory, the Thunder will try to win their third straight at Oklahoma City Arena on Saturday night when they face the Grizzlies, who are looking for a season high-tying fourth consecutive victory.
Despite shooting 51.3 percent, Oklahoma City (24-13) fell 110-105 at Memphis on Tuesday. It was the first time in 10 games this season the Thunder lost when shooting 50 percent or better.
“(The Grizzlies) had their way with us,” Brooks said following Friday’s practice. “Offensive rebounding was a problem, but we’re looking forward to another opportunity to play them. Tomorrow night our guys are going to be ready.”
When told that league leading scorer Kevin Durant(notes) and Jeff Green(notes) were not pleased with their performance Tuesday when the Grizzlies shot 51.2 percent from the field and outrebounded the Thunder 42-31, including 12-3 on the offensive end, Brooks lauded his club for holding itself accountable.
“It’s a problem if you don’t know you made a mistake and you blame it on everyone else, and that’s why I love our guys,” he said. “They don’t ever play the blame game.”
Oklahoma City avoided a season-high third straight loss Thursday with a 99-95 victory in Dallas. The Thunder held the Mavericks to 15 points in the third quarter, and Brooks said it was “as good as any team can play defense.”
“When you lose two games in a row, it kind of snowballs and you don’t want that to happen,” said Durant, who scored 28 points in Tuesday’s loss and is averaging 30.6 points and shooting 51.4 percent in his last seven games versus Memphis.
Durant and the Thunder will try to win their third straight at home in this matchup, but the Grizzlies (17-19) make their first of two visits to Oklahoma City trying to match a season-high win streak established Dec. 8-15.
Led by 28 points from Rudy Gay(notes) and 26 and 11 rebounds from Zach Randolph(notes), Memphis defeated the Jazz 110-99 on Friday. The Grizzlies, who are among the league leaders with 9.8 steals per game, had 17 while forcing Utah into a season-high 23 turnovers.
“We’ve got a lot of scorers on offense and a lot of offensive power,” backup guard O.J. Mayo(notes) said after scoring 13 points with two steals. “We thought if we put as much effort on the defensive end as we did on the offensive end, we could be a heck of a team defensively.”
Offensively, Gay and Randolph could present plenty of problems for the Thunder. Gay hit 12 of 16 shots and scored 27 in Tuesday’s victory, while Randolph had 16 boards and scored 13 of his 31 in the fourth quarter.
In four games against Oklahoma City as a member of the Grizzlies, Randolph is averaging 24.0 points and 13.5 rebounds.
Green has averaged just 12.5 and with 4.0 rebounds in those matchups.