Thunder Embracing Challenge Of 5-0 Memphis
By Randy Renner
The Memphis Grizzlies come rolling into Chesapeake Energy Arena tonight off to their best start in franchise history, 5-0.
As usual, the Griz defense has been stout but they've also been scoring a lot of points and center Marc Gasol is playing as good as he's ever played. Gasol scored a career high 32 points in their season opener and longtime rival Kendrick Perkins is praising Gasol's play.
"I got him right now as probably the second best big man out there behind (DeMarcus) Cousins so he's playin' at a high level right now and I think he's the most important person on they team and I do embrace the matchup, we'll just see how it goes."
Gasol is averaging 21.6 points and almost eight rebounds a game, Zach Randolph comes in averaging a double-double at 16.8 points and 11 rebounds a game, Courtney Lee and Mike Conley are each well into double digits averaging 16 and 15 points and even defensive ace Tony Allen, the former OSU star, is putting in eight points a game.
"They've been a good team for a lot of years now and they're healthy," pointed out Thunder head coach Scott Brooks.
Healthy is something Brooks' team isn't but at least a little bit of good injury news was seen at practice yesterday.
Jeremy Lamb was a full-go and looked comfortable. When reporters were allowed in Lamb was practicing drives to the basket and jumpers. Brooks said, "We'll have to see how he feels (at shootaround) before we know if he can play." But by the looks of what Lamb was doing it seems like a good bet that he'll be back in the Thunder lineup.
Anthony Morrow participated in about half of yesterday's practice and when we saw him he was shooting 3-pointers. Morrow was wearing a brace on his left knee. Brooks indicated Morrow is probably not quite as far along as Lamb but Brooks didn't rule Morrow out for the Memphis game.
When we talked with Perk yesterday he said he was not proud of the way he acted at times during the Brooklyn game toward backup point guard Reggie Jackson. He and forward Serge Ibaka refused to give Jackson the ball a few times, instead opting to throw it in to Sebastian Telfair who was filling in at shooting guard.
Jackson was criticized for not running the offense properly.
"Myself and Serge, we gotta do a better job with our body language and our leadership skills. I didn't like the way I acted in the Brooklyn game with my body language towards Reggie, um, but we know Reggie means well and we support him."
Jackson has made no secret of his desire to be a starting point guard in the NBA and that desire may have been the biggest sticking point in why he and the Thunder couldn't reach agreement on a contract extension. Starting point guard of course is a job that's not available in OKC, at least not when Russell Westbrook is healthy.
We'll be at shootaround later today and will post updates here, you can also check out our Twitter feed page for photos from practice.
Tipoff tonight is set for 7 o'clock at The Peake, you can see the game on Fox Sports Oklahoma or if you prefer ESPN.