Dec. 28, 2011 – The red hot Oklahoma City Thunder won their third game of the 2010-11 season but this one was painfully close. Oklahoma City took on the Memphis Grizzlies, a team that they faced in the 2010-11 playoffs, and just like the playoffs, Memphis fought till the end, keeping the game close until the final buzzer. Oklahoma City won the game, 98-95.
Russell Westbrook was the center of controversy and the reason the Thunder won as well. Westbrook lost his temper in the second quarter with his teammates and had to be talked down. When he reached the bench, he and Kevin Durant began arguing and had to be separated.
“We’re going to disagree sometimes, like I’ve always been saying,” Durant said after the game. “But I’m behind him 110 percent, and he’s the same way with me. And you seen when we came on the floor we clicked and everything started to work from there.”
Westbrook not only had problems with his teammates but he had problems shooting as well. He made some horrible shots and finished the game 0-of-13 from the field. He scored only four points in the game, all on free throws. However, that is where he came through.
With time running out in the game, Westbrook picked up a foul and set up to attempt two free throws. He sunk both to give Oklahoma City a four point lead. Zach Randolph drove down and hit a picture perfect 3-pointer, closing the gap to one. If Westbrook had missed one or both of the free throw attempts, the Thunder would have had to drive the court and make a shot to win the game.
Since he made both, the Grizzlies had to foul Durant, who made both his free throws to put the game away.
“We played as hard as we can play,” Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks said.
Oklahoma City only hit 37.7-percent of their shots from the field and their usual clutch free throw shooting was a low 78.9-percent. The Grizzlies shot as poorly as the Thunder, hitting only 39.1-percent from the field.
“You come to expect a game as physical as this game was tonight when you play against Memphis and vice versa when they play against us,” Brooks said. “That was a heck of a game. Both teams gave it everything they had. The shooting percentage was not a reflection of bad offense, it was just tough shots. Every possession was just very difficult to get off a good shot.”
Kendrick Perkins finished with ten points in the game, along with four rebounds and held Randolph to a 7-of-20 night from the field. James Harden continues to be gold from the bench for Oklahoma City, scoring 20 points with seven rebounds in the game. Durant finished with 32 points, his third consecutive 30-point game of the season.
Randolph finished with a double-double with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Marc Gasol also scored a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, although a technical on him at the end helped the Thunder pull ahead. A third double-double for the Grizzlies came from Rudy Gay, with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Next up for Oklahoma City are the defending NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks, who have not won a game yet in the 2010-11 season.