The Memphis Grizzlies went into Oklahoma City for Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Saturday and laid an egg. Memphis scored 34 points in the 1st half as they were held to under 30% shooting and trailed The Thunder 56-34.
Many expected the Thunder to come out strong, but not like this against the 3rd ranked defensive team in the NBA. Memphis Head Coach Dave Joerger must have lit a fire under the bellies of his team during halftime, because the Grizzlies outscored Oklahoma City 31-13 in the 3rd.
Memphis quickly opened up with an 8-0 run and eventually cut the lead to single digits. Memphis trailed 69-65 at the end of 3 and we had a whole new ball game. After trading baskets for the next few minutes, Caron Butler had a dunk extending the Thunder lead back to 5 at 74-69. Mike Miller quickly responded with a 3 on the other end which in the end would be his only basket of the game to make it 74-72.
The Thunder found their stride once again, and the Grizzlies inept offense couldn’t keep pace as Kevin Durant led the Thunder on a 13-1 run which eventually put the game away. Durant scored 13 of his game high 33 points in the 4th quarter.
Zach Randolph led the way for the Grizzlies with 21 points and 11 boards but struggled mightily from the field going 7 of 21 shooting. Marc Gasol didn’t fair much better as he was 7 of 19 shooting on the night. Tayshaun Prince only played 4 minutes due to an illness and Tony Allen came off the bench going 6 of 12 from the floor and providing most of the spark for Memphis in the 3rd quarter run they had.
At one point in the first half, Memphis was 0-19 from outside the paint until James Johnson hit a 3 to close out the half. The Grizzlies will need more production from their bench which provided only 13 points, not including the 13 by Tony Allen. Beno Udrih will need to provide a spark off the bench if the Grizzlies want to have any chance at winning game two. Udrih was 1 of 4 from the floor on Saturday night and struggled against Westbrook and Reggie Jackson.
Key to a Memphis victory: Zach Randolph needs to channel some of that energy left over from Lamarcus Aldridge on Sunday night that saw an emphatic comeback by the Trail Blazers over the Rockets. Aldridge was 17 of 31 from the floor and dropped 46 points while hauling in 18 boards. Though I don’t expect Randolph to be that good against Serge Ibaka, maybe Randolph can go for 25-15 on route to a Memphis victory. Too much to ask for? I hope not.
Game time is set for 7 p.m. CST and can be seen on TNT. Also noted that TNT Analyst Craig Sager is out battling leukemia. Fans are encouraged to Tweet out during the game, #GetWellSager.