Russell Westbrook Powers Thunder Past Grizzlies For Fourth Straight
Grant Belcher, News9.com
MEMPHIS – Tuesday's victory at Memphis was the ultimate win-win for Russell Westbrook and the Thunder.
OKC won its fourth straight in a 100-95 contest against the Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum.
But the biggest news was the return to form for the Russell Westbrook that Thunder fans know and love.
Westbrook got into the paint and above the rim with ease against a normally stout Memphis defense, including against one of the league's best perimeter defenders in former OSU guard Tony Allen.
He had 30 points to lead all scorers, shooting an impressive 12-of-20, and also had six rebounds and four assists.
Westbrook also turned the ball over just twice. He is averaging 2.6 turnovers per game in the past five games after starting the year at a 6.0 average in his first three games.
Kevin Durant ended up with 22 points and 11 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double.
Kendrick Perkins had a season-high in rebounding with 13 boards to go along with eight points. Guard James Harden has scored in double digits every game this season and kept that streak going with 10 points against the Grizzlies.
The teams traded the lead for much of the first half, but a mini-streak from Kevin Durant gave the Thunder some momentum going into halftime.
Durant scored the team's final six points of the quarter – all on free throws – including two with 0.4 to play after being fouled 70 feet from the basket by Memphis' Dante Cunningham.
It wasn't until the end of the third quarter when OKC finally began to create some separation.
It went on a 12-1 run toward the end of the quarter, capped by a layup from Westbrook and a free throw from Nick Collison to make it 75-67.
The Grizzlies got the deficit back to within three late in the fourth quarter but could never get over the hump in their five-point loss.
The close game fell in line with the recent results between the two teams, as Tuesday's game was the 14th-straight between the two franchises that was decided by nine points or less or in overtime.
One of the big stats for OKC in the game was outrebounding the Memphis Grizzlies 51-39. The Thunder struggled with rebounding early in the season, and Memphis was considered one of the better rebounding teams in the league.
The Grizzlies, however, were without All-Star forward Zach Randolph, who had been averaging 15 points and 7.5 rebounds until his injury. Randolph is out up to eight weeks with an MCL tear.
OKC has won four straight, all in a span of five days. It will look to push that span to an impressive five wins in six days with a game at New Orleans on Wednesday. Tipoff for that game is set for 7 p.m.