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News » Griz fall to lowly Thunder

Griz fall to lowly Thunder

Griz fall to lowly Thunder
Thunder 111, Grizzlies 103

They were supposed to provide some relief.

The Oklahoma City Thunder were mired a 14-game losing streak, a skid nearly three times as bad as the Grizzlies' experience.

Instead, a team with the NBA's worst record spelled trouble - something Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni cautioned his troops about before Saturday night and exactly what the Thunder spent the second half of their 111-103 victory over the Grizzlies emphatically stating.

Embarrassingly, the Griz dropped their sixth straight game and 10th in the last 11.

This one is an easy candidate for the worst defeat of the young season. Not because the loss came against the Thunder. Credit them for outworking the Griz, executing better and showing poise late in the game.

This setback had to sting the Griz because were in control and then became disjointed on both ends of the court before hearing boos from the FedExForum crowd for the first time this season.

"It should make us hungrier," Griz rookie O.J. Mayo said after tossing in a team-high 30 points. "I guess we'll find out what our team is about the next game. We let a team with a 14-game losing streak come in our building and get a win. Now we'll find out what we're about."

Oklahoma City outscored Memphis 68-49 in the second half, including 35-23 in the fourth quarter.

The game's final three minutes weren't pretty for the Griz.

Memphis led 100-99 with 2:57 left, but Oklahoma City scored 10 unanswered points and ended the game on a 12-3 run.

Before Mayo's 3-pointer with 27 seconds left, the Griz labored to score.

Greg Buckner rushed a 3-pointer that missed. Desmond Mason blocked Rudy Gay's layup attempt. Kyle Lowry missed a layup and lost the ball out of bounds on a drive to the basket. Mayo's floater misfired off the glass, and Gay was called for offensive foul.

Those were the Grizzlies' possessions while the Thunder pulled away.

"They frankly willed their way to the win," Iavaroni said of the Thunder. "We didn't have an answer offensively. We just could not get it going. We went to Rudy inside. We tried pick-and-roll and (the Thunder) did a great job defending. They brought great energy in the fourth quarter. They're obviously sick of losing."

Oklahoma City (2-16) got 30 points from Kevin Durant and Jeff Green added 22, including a pair of game-changing 3-pointers. Green hit one long-range dagger that tied the score at 94 and another that gave the Thunder their first lead (97-96) since early in the first period.

"We didn't play perfect Basketball by any means," Thunder coach Scott Brookes said. "But the effort was there. That's the only way to play."

The teams traded baskets for most of the final period.

When Durant's open-court dunk extended the Thunder's lead to 99-96 with 4:05 left, Iavaroni called for time and went with a small lineup. Javaris Crittenton, joined Lowry, Mayo, Buckner and Gay for that decisive stretch. Griz center Marc Gasol, 6-for-8 with 16 points and six rebounds, sat, playing just 10 minutes in the second half.

"We had to because Marc was on a 3-point shooter," Iavaroni said, adding that "it was small ball tonight."

Memphis couldn't handle foreign rotations playing small ball nor its mistakes. The Griz turned the ball over 18 times and the Thunder scored 17 points off the errors.

"We have to make quicker decisions," Lowry said. "We have to get into our offense before it's too late in the shot clock."

The Griz still led 80-76 heading into the final frame after the Thunder won the third quarter 33-26 mainly by attacking the rim, and scoring high-percentage baskets in the lane.

Starting point guard Mike Conley said he didn't expect the loss to bruise the team's psyche.

"It hurts to lose," he said. "We felt like we were in control. We felt like we did a great job in the first half. It hurts. But this isn't going to stop our confidence."

- Ronald Tillery: 529-2353

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: December 2, 2008


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