Thunder cruise past Grizzlies

Don Wade, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The play happened early, with just four minutes left in the first quarter.
The Memphis Grizzlies had a three-on-one fast break. It looked to be an easy basket, but Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant had other ideas.
"I just wanted to contest," Durant said, "and luckily they missed the shot."
Actually, the Grizzlies missed twice, setting the tone for Oklahoma City's 116-100 win Wednesday at FedExForum. The Thunder won for the 12th time in 13 games, but for the first time this season on the second night of a back-to-back (1-2).
Guard Russell Westbrook had 27 points and nine assists, Durant scored 18, and guard Jeremy Lamb added a career-high 18 points for Oklahoma City. Guard Reggie Jackson finished with 17.
The Thunder (17-4) shot 56.3 percent (40 of 71) and were nine of 18 from 3-point range (50 percent). Memphis (10-11) shot 42 percent (34 of 81) from the field, 40 percent behind the arc (six of 15).
"We struggled on the defensive end and the offensive end," said Memphis power forward Zach Randolph, who contributed 17 points and eight rebounds.
With the Thunder in command the entire second half, coach Scott Brooks gave Durant and Westbrook the fourth quarter off.
"It was great," Westbrook said. "Got my work done early."
Said Brooks: "Russell had another outstanding game, and Jeremy came in and kept the offensive flow going."
The Grizzlies were within 33-30 with 4:19 to play in the second quarter after point guard Mike Conley (team-high 20 points and nine assists) hit a 12-foot floater. The Thunder then closed the half on a 15-5 run to take a 57-42 lead into the break.
The Thunder pushed the lead to 24 points -- their largest margin of the game -- when forward Serge Ibaka (12 points) hit a short turnaround jump shot with 2:30 to play in the third quarter. The Grizzlies trailed 89-73 at the end of the quarter. They got within 14 when center Kosta Koufos scored the first points of the fourth quarter on a layup.
Oklahoma City pulled away from there. A 10-3 run that ended with a 3-pointer from Lamb at the 8:21 mark gave the Thunder a 99-78 lead.
"This is what they do. They go on runs," said Grizzlies forward Jon Leuer, who had 17 points off the bench. "We tried to limit their easy stuff, but they got a few open looks and got into a rhythm after that."
Durant had 16 points by halftime and Westbrook 15 as the Thunder shot 50 percent (18 of 36). Oklahoma City also was 16 of 18 (88.9 percent) from the free-throw line before the break, with Durant and Westbrook combining to go 12 of 12. For the game, Oklahoma City wound up 27 of 33 (81.8 percent) from the line. Memphis hit 26 of 34 foul shots (76.5 percent).
During the Thunder's 32-point second quarter, Memphis coach Dave Joerger burned three timeouts from the 5:56 to 2:29 mark. The Thunder made an 11-3 run in the span that included two fast-break Durant dunks. By that point in the game, the Grizzlies already had made nine turnovers.
"Every single possession led to a run-out by them," Joerger said. "We got a little frantic."
The Thunder outrebounded Memphis 42-33, and they are now 13-1 when outrebounding an opponent. Oklahoma City extends its streak to 21 games in which their opponents did not shoot 50 percent or better from the field.
"It's just a matter of having that mindset -- defense first, team first," Durant said. "Shots, points, rebounds, we're putting that aside. We can't let anything distract us."
NOTES: Wednesday night's game marked the first meeting between the teams since Memphis beat Oklahoma City in the Western Conference semifinals last season. Thunder PG Russell Westbrook was injured and didn't play in the series. Asked if the result might have been different had he been healthy, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said, "That's a hypothetical, I wouldn't even go there." ... Grizzlies SG Tony Allen (hip) missed his fourth consecutive game, and F Ed Davis (ankle) sat out his third game. Thunder G Thabo Sefolosha (knee) missed his second straight. ... Memphis PF Zach Randolph was honored before the game as the NBA's Kia Community Assist Award recipient for November. Randolph distributed 900 Thanksgiving food baskets to two Memphis area high schools and turkeys and hams to 1,000 people at a community center in his hometown of Marion, Ind. ... Entering the game, Oklahoma City's reserves were averaging 32.1 points per game. The Thunder's subs scored 52 points Wednesday.

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