May 8, 2013
Memphis Grizzlies beat the OCK Thunder to even series
With Russell Westbrook out of the equation, the Thunder need to get more help from the supporting cast.
By Stephen Lars
At one point or another, the Thunder are going to have to step up their game, and Kevin Durant is going to have to clean up his act and be flawless in clutch time. Otherwise it is going to be really hard for him to lead the Thunder into the next round. What seems a little troubling now is that despite the fact that the series is now 1-1, the Memphis Grizzlies seem to have been able to find a way to slow him down when he comes to take those game-winning shots. And so far, he has missed twice in this second round NBA Playoffs series. Particularly now that the Thunder are having to deal with Russell Westbrook. Now, there´s plenty of issues to go over for head coach Scott Brooks, but the Thunder need to start by evaluating their 4th quarter performance.
At one point or another, the Thunder are going to have to step up their game, and Kevin Durant is going to have to clean up his act and be flawless in clutch time.
Guided by a solid Mike Conley, who was just one assist short of a triple-double, the Memphis Grizzlies pulled off this come-from-behind effort to take a 99-93 win at Oklahoma City to even the series. Now, Conley would guide the visiting team with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists, but it was the whole team’s solid performance in the fourth quarter that gave them the win. The Grizzlies outscored the Thunder 19-30 in the fourth quarter and opened up a gap that Kevin Durant and the rest of Oklahoma City’s squad was just unable to close up. Memphis has now gained home court advantage in the series. Conley hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 1:58 left in the fourth quarter, and it seemed as if that play alone was enough to change the game’s momentum. The Grizzlies went ahead on the scoreboard and finished with 10 straight Memphis uncontested points.
"Mike Conley is now one of the top five point guards in the league, whether anybody likes it or not," said Tony Allen in the postgame press conference. Allen would finish the night with 12 points, 7 rebounds and five steals, including two in the final minute that just came as a bucket of cold ice for the home team. "I know a lot of people have got their favorites on who they think it should be, but Mike Conley is in that conversation now, being able to do these types of things on the court night in and night out." And so far, Conley is living up to those high expectations. Not only is he a fine player, but he also has that certain quality that makes him a good leader in the court.
The Thunder is missing Westbrook and it is still uncertain when he will be back, but it will not be anytime soon, since he had to get knee surgery. Oklahoma City got 36 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists from Kevin Durant. They had 11 points from Serge Ibaka and 19 points from Derek Fischer coming off the bench. Thabo Sefolosha, however, was a non-factor for the game and finished only with 7 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds. Sefolosha must stand up and do his part. Now that Westbrook is out, he has to give Durant the support he needs, otherwise they are just not going to make the cut.
Stephen Lars is a prominent sports blogger and currently covers the Sports news, previews and handicaps for the BetIAS Sportsbook. You may reprint this article in its full content, please note no modifications to it are accepted.