By Randy Renner
Coming into the game missing eight roster players, most folks were wondering how in the world the Thunder would make it through the game against Memphis much less somehow be able to win.
Turns out they did fine, scoring 117 points even though Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka were reduced by injuries to cheering their teammates on. Russell Westbrook did play and he managed to slice up the Grizzlies for 14 points and 12 assists. He also was docked for seven turnovers, but three and maybe four of those were mishandled passes by teammates.
The Grizzlies helped a little too keeping Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley on the bench for rest.
Still it was a pretty impressive performance and the guys the Thunder needed to step up did just that for the most part.
Second year center Steven Adams just keeps getting better and fast. He had 22 points for the Thunder Tuesday night. That output follows 15 and 19 point games this preseason.
Adams has now scored 56 points on 24-for-28 shooting (85.7 percent) in three preseason games. Tuesday night his 22 points came in just 21 minutes.
"He's doing a great job of setting screens and rolling to the basket," said head coach Scott Brooks, "and Russell is doing a great job of finding him."
Six of Westbrook's 12 assists came on passes inside to Adams.
"It's gonna be like that every night," Westbrook promised. "He's got big hands and a soft touch. I just tell him to be ready, the ball's always coming."
Adams has almost certainly played his way into the starting center job and besides with Durant out now the Thunder need the big Kiwi's scoring.
They also need Jeremy Lamb to show what he's capable of and Tuesday night Lamb had another good game with 23 points, six rebounds and four assists. Lamb's shot still isn't as consistent as he'd like, he was just 8-for-19 and 1-for-6 on threes, but at least he took advantage of a couple of mismatches and drove into the lane for close in shots and that gave him an opportunity to draw fouls and go to the line where he was 6-for-6.
Perry Jones showed up nicely too with 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting. He started at small forward in place of Durant. The Thunder would take a 12 point night from Jones any time they can get it. Brooks would like to see him "work on his defense," but the head coach also said, "Perry played good overall and is developing into a good 3-point shooter."
A guy who already is as solid from deep as about anybody came through again Tuesday night. Anthony Morrow followed up a 19 point night in Dallas last Friday with another 19 point night Tuesday.
"My teammates are doing a great job of finding me," Morrow said in the lockerroom. "I'm just trying to make sure I get to spots where I'm open and making it easy on the point guards. I just want to continue to do what I need to do to help the team."
The only downside to Tuesday night's win was that Andre Roberson struggled with his shot, going 0-for-4 and not scoring a point. His production has gone from six points in Denver to three points in Dallas to the big Zero Tuesday. The Thunder will more than likely start him at shooting guard when the regular season gets here but they'd also like to get something out of him offensively.
His defense continues to be solid and his effort is always great but shots need to start falling for him.
The Thunder are 2-1 now this preseason and 1-0 with out KD. They'll have a short practice on Wednesday and then fly to New Orleans for Thursday night's game with the Pelicans ( I still can't get used to typing that) and then it's on to Wichita for Friday night's game with Toronto.