Durant Leads Thunder To 3-0 Start With Win At Memphis

Wednesday, December 28th 2011, 11:18 pm
By: News 9

Grant Belcher, News9.com

OKLAHOMA CITY – It was almost as if the Thunder and Grizzlies picked up right where they left off in their playoff series.

With a budding rivalry and a tough seven-game series from last year under their belts, the Thunder picked up a tough 98-95 victory at Memphis on Wednesday night.

Kevin Durant did his thing yet again, going over 30 points for the third time in the first three games. He finished with 32 and eight rebounds on 10-17 shooting. Durant is shooting 55 percent from the field in his first three games.

Oklahoma City led all the way until midway through the third quarter, when a jumper from Zach Randolph finally gave the Grizzlies a 61-60 lead.

But OKC exploded from 3-point range in the fourth quarter, hitting 5-of-7 from beyond the arc.

The Thunder trailed 76-75 with 9:40 remaining but went on a 14-1 run (12 of which came off 3-pointers) to take control of the game and a double-digit lead.

Zach Randolph kept the Grizzlies in it, scoring 10 of their final 16 points, but OKC was able to hits its free throws down the stretch to start the season 3-0.

James Harden continued his impressive scoring off the bench, dropping 20 points and pulling down seven rebounds.

Russell Westbrook had a tough night, shooting 0-for-13 and dishing out six assists with four turnovers.

Westbrook's 0-13 performance marks the first time since David Wesley and the Charlotte Hornets in 2000-01 that a player shot 0-for-13 or worse and his team still got the win.

Both teams defended well, and neither shot the ball particularly well in the game. OKC made 38 percent of its shots, while the Grizzlies made 39 percent but just 12 percent of their 3-pointers.

Memphis had a big advantage in the paint, with Randolph, Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay grabbing 12 boards each. The Grizzlies also had 44 of their 95 points in the paint.

With their victory, the Thunder joined the Heat as the only 3-0 teams in the NBA as of Wednesday night.

The young Thunder are responding to the hectic schedule rather well so far, but the tests will continue to come. A nationally-televised home game against the Dallas Mavericks awaits them on Thursday night, marking their fourth game in the first five days of the season.

Tipoff for the game is set for 7 p.m.