Grizzlies Halt Thunder's Winning Streak
OKLAHOMA CITY – Every year when people start to discuss which teams worry them heading into the playoffs, the Memphis Grizzlies always seem to find their way into that conversation.
And Memphis showed why it belongs in that category with a 94-88 win against the Thunder on Monday night.
The Grizzlies frustrated Oklahoma City into one of its toughest offensive nights of the year with solid defensive matchups.
It wasn't that the Thunder shot a particularly horrid percentage (they finished at 45 percent on the night). But it was the fact that Oklahoma City had trouble getting off the types of field goals that they normally thrive on, such as fast break buckets.
According to the official box score, the Thunder scored just two points in what would technically be considered fast break situations.
They also had trouble scoring their usual points in the paint, as Memphis forced the Thunder to use up much of the shot clock throwing the ball around the perimeter. Those strategies allowed the Grizzlies the victory despite them shooting less than 40 percent in the game.
The lead shifted back and forth throughout the entire first half, with the Thunder clinging to a slim 44-42 margin at the break.
But the Grizzlies big break came at the start of the fourth quarter when they really began to control the tempo.
After taking a 68-64 lead into the fourth, Memphis used a quick 7-2 run to push the lead all the way out to nine, their largest of the game.
From there, Oklahoma City had to play catch up the rest of the night and could never close the gap, even after a couple of small runs.
The Thunder got the lead down to one point with about 30 seconds remaining in the contest, and had an excellent defensive possession. But OJ Mayo knocked down a long three at the end of the shot clock for the dagger that put the game out of reach.
The normally explosive combination of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook was finally stifled a bit as they were held to a combined 40 points on 13-of-36 shooting.
Durant led all scorers with 21 but Mayo's big 3-pointer near the end gave him the game-high honors with 22. Memphis had a balanced scoring attack with six players in double figures scoring.
After several games with a low turnover amount, OKC began to slide back to its old ways a bit with 18 turnovers in the contest, leading to 23 extra Memphis points.
With the loss, the Thunder's lead over the Spurs in the Western Conference slid back down to 2.5 games with 13 remaining games on the schedule.
OKC will have a day off before heading to Miami for the rematch with the Heat. Tipoff for that game is set for 7 p.m.