The Thunder flew to Memphis after last nights game against Cleveland. In the second night of a back to back, the Thunder didn’t look too tired in the first half. However, in the second half the fatigue clearly effected this team. The Thunder was able to over come adversity and head into the all-star break with momentum.
Carmelo Anthony surprised just about everyone and scored the first two baskets of the game for the Thunder. Unfortunately, after that the Thunder struggled to score for awhile. Memphis took a pretty decent sized lead, but the Thunder weren’t ready to quit just yet. The Thunder started trying to get to the free throw line to get the offense going, and it worked. In a back and forth quarter, OKC’s first lead came with 3:25 to go. Melo and Paul George led the way in the quarter, as the two took turns hitting shots from outside. Oklahoma City made four 3’s in the first quarter.
The second quarter was one for the record books for Oklahoma City. The second unit held their own against Memphis, largely due to Patrick Patterson knocking down a couple 3’s, and Raymond Felton controlling the offense. The entire Big 3 was shooting well, which led to a 23-2 run for OKC. The team was making a barrage of 3’s, totaling up 12 in the first half. Combining hot shooting and suffocating defense, the Thunder held a large lead heading into the second half.
The third quarter was the polar opposite of the second. The Thunder simply couldn’t get shots to fall. The team started out 2/12 from the field, and it didn’t get much better after that. Playing on the second night of a back to back the legs of the Thunder were starting to get tired. Shots were coming up short, and movement on the defensive end was basically non existent. The Thunder struggled to find other ways to score the basketball. Paul George’s only basket was a free throw that came at the end of the quarter. After the first twelve minutes of the second half, the Thunder’s lead was cut to only eight points.
In the fourth and final quarter, it seemed like the Thunder were doing everything they could to not win this game. Poor shot selection and lazy defense were dooming this team. The Grizzlies actually brought the game within 3 points. However, the veterans for OKC responded and barely pulled off this win. A clutch 3 by Melo and a block by Russ sealed the deal for the Thunder.
3 Quick Thoughts
- Live or Die by the 3.
If you’ve watched the Thunder play at all this season, it’s no secret that they like to shoot the 3 ball. However, they’ve often times shot their way out of games this season. To be a great 3 point shooting team, you don’t necessarily need to shoot lights out every game, you just need to know when the shots are falling and when they are not. For example, tonight this team made twelve 3’s in the first half alone! On a night like that, it’s alright to let them fly. However, if they aren’t falling you gotta find other ways to score.
- OKC Needs to let the Offense Flow Through Paul George.
There’s no doubt that the ball should flow through Russell Westbrook, because he is the life of this team. However, I think more shots should be going through the hands of Paul George. In a perfect world, this offense would look inside to Steven Adams, then look to find Paul George on the perimeter if possible. George has really found his shot over the last ten games or so. PG13 now has five straight games with five or more 3 point shots made. There’s no doubt he is the biggest offensive weapon this team has.
- No Better Way to End the First Half of the Season!
The first half of this season has been full of ups and downs. There’s been times where it seemed like this squad wasn’t going to workout, and there were times where they looked like the best team in the league. This team has had to learn how to adjust to major injuries. Losing Andre Roberson took a huge toll on this team. The Thunder struggled to find a new rhythm without him in the lineup, but it looks like they’ve finally figured things out. Heading into the all-star break with a win is the best thing this Thunder team could’ve done. Hopefully this momentum will carry into the second half of the season.
This was the last game the Thunder will play before the all-star break. The Thunder won’t be back in action for eight days. Their next game will be against the Sacramento Kings on next Thursday. The game will start at 9:00 PM CST and it will be televised on FSOK. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
After the Thunder finished the first half of the season on a high note, playing the Kings in their first game back will be a great opportunity for this team to start the second half on the same note. This team should not be any trouble for Oklahoma City, however the Thunder have been known to play down to the level of their opponent.
Article written by Craig Hofeld. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.