Oklahoma City 106, Memphis 89By Michael Kinney, The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Thu, Jan 31, 2013 11:00 PM EST
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The last time Memphis paid Oklahoma City a visit, most of the drama took place between the opposing teams. But Thursday, with the Grizzlies back in town, it was the Thunder who provided all the fireworks on and off the court. Oklahoma City (35-11) rolled to a 106-89 victory and improved to 20-3 at home. But it was an on-the-court eruption between guards Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha that became the topic of discussion after the game. Memphis, playing in its first game since trading Rudy Gay to Toronto, seemed to still be in shock of not having their former leading scorer on the team anymore. It wasn't until the second half that they began to play somewhat like their old selves as they cut a 26-point deficit to 11 in the fourth. But that was as close as Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin would let the Grizzlies (29-16) get. They combined to score 10 points in the fourth to push the lead back to 20 before both teams cleared their benches. Durant led all scorers with 27 points on 10-for-16 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and six assists. Westbrook added 21 points and nine rebounds while Martin and Nick Collison came off the bench to score 13 and 12 points respectively. Jerryd Bayless paced Memphis with 23 points as he replaced Gay in the starting lineup. Mike Conley chipped in with 17 points. Zach Randolph had a poor shooting performance (4-for-17), but hauled in 19 rebounds in the losing effort. The shooting woes that plagued the Thunder in their loss to the L.A. Lakers on Sunday evaporated in the first quarter against Memphis. They shot 80 percent from the field, despite racking up eight turnovers. With Randolph and Marc Gasol getting off to slow starts, Memphis stayed within striking distance behind Bayless. He erupted for 12 points in the opening quarter as the Grizzlies trailed by only 10. However, the Thunder got its transition game rolling in second period and pushed their lead to 24. Westbrook, who had been in a horrible shooting slump, was 7 for 10 in the first half as Oklahoma City led 58-34. In the third, it began to fall apart for Oklahoma City. After Westbrook and Sefolosha got into a heated argument on the floor, Brooks benched Westbrook with the Thunder up by 21 points. Randolph, who had started the game 0 for 9, led the Grizzlies on a comeback and cut the lead to 12 heading into fourth quarter. NOTES: Memphis entered its game with Oklahoma City a day after taking part in a blockbuster six-player trade. The Grizzlies acquired forward Ed Davis and guard Jose Calderon from Toronto and sent Gay and backup center Hamed Haddadi to the Raptors. Memphis then sent Calderon to Detroit for Austin Daye and Tayshaun Prince. "It's the business of basketball," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "I understand that perfectly well. The players understand it. When you have champagne taste, you can't be on a beer budget. We are in a small market. I understand the economics of being in a small market." ... With the trade not taking place until late Wednesday evening, Day, Davis and Prince were in Memphis waiting on physicals to be approved. Hollins expects them to be available Friday. ... Thursday marked the first time coach Scott Brooks has coached a game at home since the death of his mother, Lee Brooks, on Jan. 20. ... When the Thunder left for its six-game road trip, Durant was third in NBA in scoring with a 28.7 average. He returned leading the league at 29.6.
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