Thunder Get Much Needed Win
Kevin Durant had seen this horror show before, his team carrying a big lead late in the game and all of a sudden watching it melt away right into the loss column.
This time though, KD would have none of that. He scored 13 of his game-high 37 points in the fourth quarter, six of those coming in a one minute stretch of the game's last 90 seconds to put away the Memphis Grizzlies and give the Thunder their first win since February 13th.
"I just told myself to be aggressive, to score," Durant told reporters in the Thunder lockerroom. "Losing three in a row is tough to swallow so it feels good to get a W."
The Thunder did just that, winning 113-107 and taking the season series from Memphis three games to four.
Russell Westbrook had another solid game with 21 points, Serge Ibaka added 16 and nine rebounds and Reggie Jackson had one of his better games lately with 14 points.
The Thunder came out of the gate with defensive intensity they haven't shown since the All-Star break. They disrupted everything Memphis tried to do on offense, deflecting passes and forcing turnovers. The Grizz scored just 42 points in the first half on 37.5 percent shooting.
Zach Randolph was frustrated by the defense of Steven Adams, Nick Collison and even Hasheem Thabeet, who got a lot of meaningful minutes tonight. Z-Bo was hounded into a 2-for-10 first half.
"That gave us a big lift, I think our bigs did a tremendous job on their bigs," Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook said after the game.
"That first half was probably as good as we've played most of the season," acknowledged Thunder head coach Scott Brooks.
But with the good also came the bad. The third quarter wasn't as good as the first half and the fourth quarter defense almost lost the game.
"I think we were a little relaxed in the fourth quarter," Brooks said, "and then they started making shots."
Boy did they. 15-for-21 (71.4 percent) in the final 12 minutes. Mike Miller came off the bench and almost single handedly brought the Grizzlies back. All 19 of his points came in the fourth quarter when he hit seven of his nine shots, four of those from deep.
But this time, instead of letting a win slip away, Durant and his teammates hit the brakes on the slide and ended that three game losing streak before any more panic buttons could be pushed.
The Thunder will practice Saturday and by late afternoon should have Caron Butler on board after he agreed to a contract on Friday.
And just in time too because shooting guard and defensive whiz Thabo Sefolosha had to leave the game in the first half with a strained left calf muscle, so Butler may get even more playing time that he thought he might if Sefolosha has to miss a few games.