Last time Russell Westbrook and the Thunder took on the Memphis Grizzlies, it ended badly for all parties not named Memphis. The Grizzlies won by 34 points, and Westbrook managed to stay in the game just 23 minutes before getting ejected. Memphis breezed by OKC 114-80 that night.
Two weeks later, citing disrespect by the Grizzlies in their late three-point barrage, Westbrook and the Thunder beat the Grizzlies 103-95 Wednesday night.
Westbrook had 24 points, 13 boards, and 12 assists against the Grizzlies to notch his 18th triple-double of the season. 18 triple-doubles, by the way, is the same amount that Westbrook had all of last season. He shot dismally from the field–just 6 for 19 on the night, including missing all seven of his threes–but making 12 of his 15 free throws helped make up for that.
Steven Adams played arguably his best game of the season, but his impact can’t adequately be measured through his box score. He had 12 points and eight rebounds, but his physical, bowling ball-like play made the difference entirely against a grind-it-out team like Memphis.
This clutch Adams block led to a Victor Oladipo three that sealed the game:
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) January 12, 2017
In any game against the Grizzlies, interior play is paramount. The rotation of the Thunder bigs–especially Adams and Enes Kanter–beat the Grizzlies at their own game. Kanter excelled at the Grizzlies’ own pace, eating them up on the interior. Kanter scored 18 points on 18 shots. Kanter played 30 minutes–abut 10 minutes more than average–and made the best of them. The play of the ‘Stache Bros on the inside set the tone for the entire game and ultimately pushed the Thunder over the top.
Mike Conley led the Grizzlies in scoring with 22, adding six assists and four rebounds. Marc Gasol struggled heavily in the face of Adams’ interior defense, scoring just 9 points on 4 of 12 shooting. Chandler Parsons played well despite his recent struggles, scoring 14 on 7-12 shooting.
The Thunder improve to 24-16, while the Grizzlies fall to 24-17. Next up for OKC: they take on the Timberwolves in Minnesota Friday. Tipoff is at 7.