Thunder seek bounce-back effort against Grizzlies
The Oklahoma City Thunder will try and get back on track, but the task won't be easy when they visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
The Thunder fell victim to the Denver Nuggets, at home, on Tuesday, 114-104. The Nuggets collected their 13th consecutive win and OKC had a three-game winning streak ended.
"They deserve the credit tonight," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "There are a number of things that we can get better from and learn from and we will. Our guys have always done that and there's no reason for me to believe that's not going to continue to happen."
It will have to happen quickly. The Thunder visit Memphis, which is tied for third place in the Western Conference with the Los Angeles Clippers. OKC has already locked up a place in the playoffs, but this game could do a lot seeding-wise.
The Grizzlies trail the Thunder by four games and are just a half-game ahead of the surging Nuggets. OKC still has designs on that No. 1 seed in the West. The Thunder are just 1 1/2 games behind the San Antonio Spurs.
Against the Nuggets, the Thunder shot 16 percent from long range, going 4- for-25. Kevin Durant (34 points) and Russell Westbrook (25) were their usual dynamic selves, but they didn't get much help. Kevin Martin had 14 points, but no other OKC player scored in double figures.
The Grizzlies broke a two-game losing streak on Monday with a 92-77 drubbing of the Minnesota Timberwolves at home. Memphis had a six-game winning streak halted by a Friday night loss in Denver, then the Grizz fell in Utah on Saturday.
Back at home, where the Grizzlies are 26-8, Memphis got back to defense. The Grizzlies held the Timberwolves to 39 first-half points and won the third quarter by 15 to put the game almost out of reach.
The Grizzlies are in a battle for homecourt in the first round of the playoffs with both the Clippers and Nuggets. They made the huge Rudy Gay/Tayshaun Prince swap during the season, but the goal remained the same.
"We're trying to build something special. I don't know if we can do it or not, but we've got to work toward it," said Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins. "And that's to contend for a championship. Play all the good teams and beat them wherever you can play them. It's important to build on that every day. Every day you come to the gym, you've got to work hard. You've got to do what you do every day."
Something will have to give in this battle. The Thunder are the NBA's top scoring team at 106.7 ppg, while the Grizzlies are the best in the league in opponents' scoring at 89.2 ppg.
The two teams split this season's matchups, both of which were in Oklahoma City. The Thunder have taken two in a row in Memphis and are 20-13 on the road this season.