OKLAHOMA CITY — For a game that started with next to zero momentum, both teams shooting poorly, sloppy ball handling and turnovers every other possession, and a third straight without Paul George for OKC, the Thunder refused to quit with Russell Westbrook banking a vital 3 with 1:04 left in the game to tie it at 93 all and sparking the comeback that led the Thunder to a 99-95 win over the Grizzlies.
The Thunder came into tonight’s matchup riding a four-game losing steak; its first four-game losing streak since the 0-4 start to the regular season. It was the second night of a back-to-back for both teams where the Thunder had lost to the Spurs in San Antonio 116-102 and Memphis had defeated the Mavericks in Dallas at 111-81.
The Grizzlies were without Mike Conley as he healed from general soreness, and the Thunder were without Paul George for a third-straight game as he continues to rehabilitate his right shoulder after suffering an injury in Denver against the Nuggets this past Tuesday.
“It’s not up to one player to step up and take over with Paul being out,” Head Coach Billy Donovan said in his pregame presser. “It’s up to the group as a whole.”
Dennis Schröder started in George’s spot against San Antonio on Saturday night, and Billy Donovan felt comfortable enough with contribution to the starting lineups’ dynamic that Schröder was able to get the start again in place of PG.
The Thunder opened the game up at an incredibly slow pace shooting 39 percent from the field, 43 percent from downtown going 3-7, while the Grizzlies took only three 3-point attempts knocking down two of them and shooting 50 percent from the floor while outscoring OKC 28-25.
Russell Westbrook had a disastrous start to the game with three turnovers, going 2-5 from the floor, and picking up his 14th technical foul of the season just a little over two minutes into the game. Two more technical fouls, and Westbrook will see himself facing a one game suspension.
Abdel Nader made his presence known early in the game finishing the first quarter with 8 of his final 15 points on the night, and his efficiency from behind the arc at 3-6 gave the Thunder life in times the team needed it most.
Despite Westbrook’s anticlimactic start to the game, his performance toward the end of the game is what essentially secured the win for the Thunder in the end. A clutch 3 with just over a minute left in the game, and a perfectly lined up jumpshot to push the Thunder ahead was exactly the spark this team needed to take care of business and avoid a fifth straight loss.
Final Game Stats:
- Westbrook: 22 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals
- Schröder: 17 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals
- Nader: 15 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
- Grant: 13 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists
- Adams: 13 points, 22 rebounds, 2 steals
- Thunder shot 33-93 from the field (35.5 percent) 9-30 from downtown (30 percent)
- Grizzlies shot 35-79 from the floor (44.3 percent) 7-22 from behind the arc (31.8 percent)
Up next for the Thunder is a four-game road stretch where they make stops in Minnesota (Tuesday), Portland (Thursday), Los Angeles for the Clippers (Friday), and Utah (next Monday) before returning home for a Wednesday night matchup against the Brooklyn Nets.
The Thunder extend to 39-24 in the regular season, while the Memphis Grizzlies sit at 25-40.