The Thunder earned their third straight win 103-95 against the Memphis Grizzlies tonight, which is a solid win against a playoff quality team that had their way with Oklahoma City the last time these teams met. The difference in this game was the intensity the Thunder brought on the defensive side of the ball. Russell Westbrook was also able to play his normal minutes, as he was ejected in the third quarter during the last matchup.
Oklahoma City got off to somewhat of a quick start as they knocked down the first two shots of the game. The Thunder were able to take the lead early on, and never lost control after that. Memphis fought their way back into the game several times thanks to Mike Conley, but the Thunder were able to respond and extend the lead when the Grizzlies began to work their way back. In the end, the young legs of the Thunder were too much for the veterans of the Grizzlies to keep up with.
Defense Sets the Tone
The Thunder really brought the intensity on defense tonight, and it came up huge in the final minutes of the game. Oklahoma City really kept the main scoring threats for the Grizzlies from ever getting anything going. The last time these two teams met the Thunder had poor rotation which led to open shots and easy looks, but the team did a much better job in this one. The defensive effort transitioned into offense for the Thunder preventing Memphis from going on scoring runs.
The Stache Bros
The Stache Bros had another great night, which was the other major key to the Thunder coming out on top tonight. Steven Adams and Enes Kanter both scored in double digits, combining for 31 points and the pair also recorded 20 rebounds. These big games are becoming a regular thing for the post duo, and it has been huge for the Thunder organization.
Steven Adams has continued to improve essentially every game since arriving in Oklahoma City as a rookie. The young post signed a massive contract this offseason, and many people began to question whether or not it was worth it after he had a slow start to the season. After the hand injury had time to heal, Adams game picked up right where he left off last year. It is starting to look like it’s safe to say the injury is the reason to the slow start, and the contract very well may be worth every penny.
Westbrook Makes History, Again
Russell Westbrook recorded his 18th triple-double of the season tonight, which ties his record from last season. The 18 triple-doubles ties Magic Johnson for the most in a season since the merger back in 1976. These numbers were astonishing last season, but even more impressive when you consider he reached the same mark this season and we aren’t even at the All-Star break yet. It would be no surprise at this point to see Russ average a triple-double throughout the entire season.
Although he did not shoot well tonight (6-19), Westbrook still managed to do enough to get the win for his team. He finished the game with 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists. Russ has been adamant that his main priority is to do whatever it takes to help his team win, even if it means less scoring opportunities for himself.
Article written by Craig Hofeld. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.