Durant Gametime Decision Tonight In Memphis
By Randy Renner
Thunder superstar Kevin Durant hasn't been able to practice or even workout very much on that sprained left big toe and his status for tonight's game in Memphis is may not be known for sure until just before tipoff.
Durant has missed the last two games, a Thunder win, bit only by single digits, over a terrible Minnesota team and a Thunder loss to an equally terrible New York Knicks bunch.
He suffered the injury in Sunday's loss at Cleveland and his status is uncertain as the Thunder conclude a brief trip. They've gone 9-16 without the six-time All-Star, averaging 94.5 points when he doesn't play and 105.7 when he does.
"The margin of error becomes a little bit smaller when Kevin's not on the floor," coach Scott Brooks said after Durant missed practice Thursday. "He's obviously one of the best players in the world, so we have to be able to compensate for that."
The competition seriously ramps up tonight with a Grizzlies team that is rolling right now.
Durant has scored 35.0 per game in his last three regular-season meetings with the Grizzlies. In the most recent matchup in Memphis, he led the Thunder with 36 points in a 104-84 win in Game 6 of last season's first-round playoff series.
Oklahoma City played without Durant, Russell Westbrook, Perry Jones, Anthony Morrow and Andre Roberson in a 91-89 home loss to the Grizzlies on Nov. 7. Mike Conley hit a late go-ahead 3-pointer, but his availability is also in doubt after missing the past two games with a sprained left wrist.
Southwest Division-leading Memphis (34-12) has been able to extend its now five-game winning streak without Conley, the team's second-leading scorer at 17.4 per game, thanks in part to its outstanding defensive play.
The Grizzlies are allowing 84.4 points and 23.3 percent shooting from 3-point range during their win streak. They had surrendered 102.3 points and a 38.4 mark from beyond the arc in their previous 21 games.
So the Grizzlies stout defense could prove problematic for a Thunder team that struggles mightily when Durant isn't on the floor. Oklahoma City comes into the game at the place they call "The Grindhouse" having lost three straight on the road.
Another bit of intrigue tonight will be former Thunder starter Jeff Green. Green was traded to Boston back in 2011 in the deal that brought Kendrick Perkins to OKC. Green was dealt by the Celtics to Memphis a couple of weeks ago and he's played very well since the deal.
The Thunder will hold shoot-around later today and Durant's status could be clearer then, though more than likely an official announcement may not come until just before tonight's 7pm tipoff in Memphis.
You can see the game on Fox Sports Oklahoma.