Tag:O.J. Mayo
Posted on: February 1, 2012 12:34 am
  •  
 

Report Card 1.31.12: Grizz major in grind

Memphis storms back to get a big win over Nuggets and stop a losing streak. (Getty Images)

Your nightly report card wraps up the performances of the NBA night and provides grades on a curve. Tuesday night the Knicks found the cure for a night, the Grizzlies GrizzGrinded their way to a comeback, and the Celtics passed... barely. 

By Matt Moore

Memphis Grizzlies


The Grizzlies were lost for much of the first half, but got back to the constant effort and continual pressure that makes them a dangerous team. All of a sudden their offense began to click, Rudy Gay started to get it going in steals, threes, and dunks, and O.J. Mayo began making plays as well as scoring. Throw in some tremendous defense by Tony Allen, and the Grizzlies steal a key game from Denver to get back on track. The Nuggets kept hammering them with offense, and the Grizzlies needed every single second in this one to get th win. Memphis pulls up out of its tailspin of late.

New York Knicks


(by Ken Berger, CBSSports.com)

I grade them on a curve because they're playing, you know, the Pistons. But the time off (in addition to lack of defense) did wonders for Melo. The Knicks moved the ball better than they have in a while and got good (mostly uncontested) shots as a result.




Boston Celtics


They won. And outside of very few exceptions, if you win, you get a C- or better. So The Celtics get a C-, no better. They won, against a tough, gritty, feisty, whatever cliche term you want to use Cavs team. But the fourth quarter collapse was in effect again. Kyrie Irving gets two more shots that were awful close to drop and the Celtics are staring at their second meltdown against the Cavs in three days. Their offense gets out of control, their defense is the bigger concern. They continually have issues with defending inside in the last minutes of a game against pressure. They got the win. But there are problems still in Boston.

Danilo Gallinari

You've got to wonder if Gallo is injured. He simply did not have any part of his game working. Dribble, shooting, defense, rebounding, anything. If Gallinari plays any better the Nuggets likely win this game comfortably. Also wound up forcing other players to contribute more minutes, adding to exaustion with a tough schedule coming up.



Detroit Pistons



The Detroit Pistons, good for what ails you. Even the Knicks.
Posted on: January 23, 2012 10:47 am
Edited on: January 23, 2012 11:36 am
 

Report: Grizz plan to keep Mayo

O.J. Mayo is playing well enough, he may stay in Memphis (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore

O.J. Mayo did not have a good 2011. He got into a fight on a team plane with Tony Allen over a card game. He was busted for a banned substance he says he got from an energy drink from a gas station. He was benched for the first time in his competitive-playing life, had some injury issues, and generally wasn't himself. He was nearly traded to the Indiana Pacers ... twice. 

2012, as it turns out, is a much better fit for the fourth-year shooting guard.

Mayo has worked out his issues with coach Lionel Hollins, has a better understanding of his role on the Grizzlies, and has rediscovered his shooting touch. His 45.8 percent field goal percentage matches his career high, and his 48.9 percent mark from the perimeter is downright scorching. He's been focused in on both sides of the ball, has his career mark in PER, and rebound percentage. In short, he's playing pretty well. 

And the Memphis Commercial-Appeal reports that the result is a move away from actively pursuing a trade for Mayo. He may not be off the table, but he's no longer on the block. Not only that, but he could wind up staying with Memphis even after he enters restricted free agency this summer. 
Truth is, Griz management isn't seriously thinking of dealing Mayo nor is his possible, restricted free-agent status this summer a major concern. Mayo likely will remain with the Griz this season because of his productivity and the Grizzlies' ability to control his future with the right of first refusal on contract offers.

Although Mayo is eligible to negotiate a long-term contact extension with Memphis by Wednesday, the Griz aren't compelled to agree to a deal or trade him at the moment.

"It remains to be seen whether something happens or not," Griz general manager Chris Wallace said about a Mayo contract extension. "If it doesn't happen I wouldn't read much into it. We didn't extend Rudy and resigned him. It's a floating situation. I wouldn't say (Mayo) is a lock to be with us after this year and I wouldn't say he isn't. There's so much ground to be covered between now and July."
via Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo beginning to flourish in reserve role » The Commercial Appeal.

Eight months ago, it seemed impossible that Mayo would still be in Memphis even now. Now it's possible that the Grizzlies, after clearing some cap space by trading Xavier Henry and moving other pieces. Michael Heisley being willing to go into the luxury tax with five players on roster on big, long-term deals seems unlikely, but with the success Memphis has found, there's no way to tell. It's good to see a player work through his trouble with a team and come out productive on the other side.
Posted on: January 12, 2012 9:24 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 9:45 pm
 

Report: Grizzlies, Nets talked O.J. Mayo trade

Posted by Ben Golliver oj-mayo 

This man lives on the trade block.

Yahoo Sports reports that Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo has had his name come up in recent trade talks with the New Jersey Nets.
Memphis and New Jersey have been engaged in trade talks centered on guard O.J. Mayo, but a deal appears unlikely. Nets-Grizzlies talks included scenarios for Anthony Morrow and a pick for O.J. Mayo, but discussions have lost traction.
Mayo, 24, is a 6-foot-4 guard with a scorer's mentality and solid two-way, energetic play. His statistical production has taken a hit during his four years in Memphis, as he's been shifted to a reserve role behind starting guards Mike Conley and Tony Allen, and he's currently averaging 10.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 24.4 minutes per game this seaon. 

Morrow, 26, is more of a one-dimensional player, known for his ability to shoot from distance and score in bunches. So far during 2011-2012, his second season with New Jersey, Morrow is averaging 12.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game in 25.4 minutes. He's been used both as a reserve and, most recently, as a starter by Nets coach Avery Johnson.

Mayo is in the final year of his current contract and seems a very, very unlikely long-term fit in Memphis, a team that has already committed major dollars to Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol and Conley. Has name has repeatedly come up in tralk talks, including proposals involving the Indiana Pacers -- in a failed swap for forward Josh McRoberts, who is now with the Los Angeles Lakers -- and the Golden State Warriors in a rumored swap for guard Monta Ellis. The Grizzlies also have promising second round pick Josh Selby who, despite a recent marijuana bust, seems capable of providing a backcourt scoring pop off the bench at a fraction of Mayo's price.

But, really, Mayo trade talks are not about what he does on the court. During his time in Memphis, he's been suspended for failing a drug test and gotten into a well-publicized fight with Allen on the team plane. He's needed a change of scenery for awhile now.

Is New Jersey, currently 2-9 and in the basement of the Atlantic Division, that place? They can certainly use his talent and would like likely start him alongside All-Star Deron Williams in what would be a fairly dynamic and interchangeable backcourt. He represents an upgrade from Mayo and this talent-deficient bunch can use any upgrade it can find. There's also an urgency at play in the Garden State, as Williams wants to win now and his future is very much up in the air.

One question here: If you're Memphis, do you prefer simply to unload Mayo to a team with cap space so you don't have to receive salary in return? Similarly, do you prefer to let his contract expire at the end of this season to give yourself added flexibility next summer? Given that we're roughly two months from the trade deadline, we'll know soon enough. One thing is for sure: this won't be the last time we'll hear Mayo's name in rumors over the next eight weeks.
Posted on: September 20, 2011 1:44 pm
 

Year of the Grizzlies



By Matt Moore


To say that every franchise has "that year" that changes everything is just not true. Most franchises take time to develop, to blossom from fledgling to regular to up-and-comer to contender to powerhouse. There are titanic events that shape franchises, to be sure, almost always involving the NBA draft. The Spurs, for example, nabbed Tim Duncan to go along with a recovering David Robinson. That was a game-changer for them, literally. But the Spurs had been a playoff team for years, had been contenders in the ABA and NBA, a team that had developed over time. The Miami Heat had the 2006 year when everything came together, but they had also grown in legitimacy through the Alonzo Mourning era. 

But the Grizzlies?

The Grizzlies are having a year that could remake their franchise as a whole. Okay, maybe it's two years. 

It started with re-signing Rudy Gay in free agency for a max deal. The Grizzlies took a world of flak for the decision, since Gay wasn't considered a max player at the time, nor is he now. But it was a shift for the Grizzlies. It was a change in owner Michael Heisley's previous approach, in that it showed he was willing to spend, and spend heavy, in order to compete. Heisley had taken on water as being cheap since trading Pau Gasol (the last player he gave a significant contract to). There were questions of whether the young, talented roster the Grizzlies had been developing together since that Gasol trade would stay together. Heisley breaking out the wallet signified that if nothing else, Heisley was good to his word. He said he wanted to compete, and that if the team competed, he would spend. Re-signing Gay gave them the opportunity to do so.

Heisley followed that up with what I thought was one of the worst contracts in franchise history, and what turned out to be one of the shrewdest moves in frachise history by extending Mike Conley before he could enter restricted free agency. In doing so, not only did he continue to show he would spend to keep the core together, but he also got Conley for a good value relative to his ability, as the young point guard matured into a floor general and reliable playmaker.

When Gay went down in February, the team had already started to rise. That's what's forgotten in the talk that Gay's injury was the cause for the Grizzlies's surge. the Grizzlies had been playing better since January 1st, going 11-6 in January. They had started to gel before Gay's injury and had Gay stayed healthy, it's not like he was keeping a difference maker off the floor. His minutes were absorbed by second-year player Sam Young, who contributed on both ends of the floor, but wasn't in any way better for the overall team structure than Gay, offensively or defensively.

The Grizzlies made a deadline deal to acquire Shane Battier, dumping franchise dead weight and first-round bust Hasheem Thabeet and an additional pick. They nearly made another deal, but fitting the pattern of good fortune, their deal to trade O.J. Mayo to Josh McRoberts fell through. The result was Mayo sticking around and being a huge part of the Grizzlies' playoff run. At the time, though, it seemed more like the kind of thing the Grizzlies tend to screw up as a habit. 

Nonetheless, the Grizzlies then went on one of the best runs in franchise history, even if the numbers don't bear it out. Consider this. The Grizzlies went 9-5 in March. Not great, but good, right? Here's who they played in March of 2011: Spurs, Hornets, Mavericks, Thunder, Knicks, Heat, Clippers, Knicks, Pacers, Jazz, Celtics, Bulls, Spurs, Warriors. That's eleven playoff teams out of fourteen opponents, with the others the wacky Warriors, the Jazz, and Blake Griffin. To survive that schedule around .500 would have been an achievement. To romp through it with success was what put them over the top and into the playoffs, creating a buffer wide enough to hold off the surging Rockets for the eighth spot.

Then, despite tanking to play the four-time champion San Antonio Spurs coming off one of their best regular seasons in years, the Grizzlies pulled one of the most impressive upsets in NBA history, not only beating the top seed but looking impressive doing it. The first franchise playoff win came in their first playoff game of the season, on the road, on the back of a Shane Battier three.  The Grizzlies would go on to push the mighty and revered Thunder to seven games, proving that the young argonauts were mortal after all. Though the Grizzlies fell, it was in the most respectable manner possible, with the real turning point being a triple-overtime thriller that was decided mostly due to various Grizzlies stars fouling out and not having enough energy left for the rest of the series. 

So that's a pretty great year, right? Except things continue to get better. During the playoff run, Heisley also paid Zach Randolph. Keeping the All-Star of the team on the roster has its ups and downs, considering his later-contract-year money vs. age, but it also provides them with the consistency Randolph's shown for years in being a 20-10 guy, and now a team leader.

But most importantly, this lockout, while harmful towards the franchise's momentum in terms of fan support which has always been tepid in Memphis, could be the best thing of all. A revised CBA could allow for the Grizzlies to keep costs down, stabilizing the franchise's financials and eliminating one of the biggest disadvantages to their efforts, the market inequality that has kept them out of free agency conversations. A revised revenue sharing system would do wonders for the Grizzlies whose television deal pays them a fraction of the larger markets', and even the possibility of shortening the years on existing contracts could help with their long-term financials and flexibility.

There are drawbacks, of course. A hard cap implemented immediately would have devastating impacts on the Grizzlies considering the money they've already shelled out, much less the money necessary to re-sign restricted free agent Marc Gasol. But it's just as likely that a new system could come out favoring the Grizzlies' as much as any team in the league, from a financial and competitiveness standpoint.  

The final piece of the puzzle is Gasol. Re-signing one of the best young centers in the league, who has stated openly his desire to return to Memphis where he went to high school, cementing this core of players that genuinely enjoys playing with one another, could be the component that changes the Grizzlies from newly-respectable to consistent contender, at least for the playoffs. It gives the fans a reason to buy in, a group of players worth getting behind (as the elder Gasol's Grizzlies team never was), and could get owner Michael Heisley off the punchline lists around the league.

There is, naturally, the concern from fans and analysts of the extreme opposite, however. Once the Grizzlies finished their playoff run, my first thought was to wonder if this was similar to the Clippers' 2006 run. The Clippers made a strong showing in the playoffs, advancing to the second round and a close series with the run-and-gun Suns. But the year after, Elton Brand went down and everything tanked. The Clippers became the Clippers again. This is what seems to happen to franchises in the NBA. You're either "there" or you're not. Then again, we thought the latter about the Mavericks for decades until everything changed. Now look at them.

2010-2011 was a good year for the Grizzlies, a great year. 2011-2012 could wind up being the best yet. From ticket sales to on-court performance to the emergence of Gay as a superstar to being respected and feared as a contender, this could wind up being the point in time where the Grizzlies changed the course of franchise history, and forever altered the face of professional basketball in Memphis.  
Posted on: September 8, 2011 12:08 pm
 

Conley organizes Grizzlies workouts

By Matt Moore

The number of ways Mike Conley has impressed me since I torched him upon his signing a $40 million extension continues to grow. I've been wrong about some things. Today. And, well, every day. But I do my best to try and recognize it and adjust accordingly. And Mike Conley continues to bury a knife into my early season criticism of him last year. In short, I look like a moron consistently. Case in point: Conley has taken the lead in organizing team workouts in Memphis during the lockout to work on conditioning, in-game situations, and chemistry. From the Memphis Commercial-Appeal:
Mike Conley decided not to wait for an end to the NBA lockout to direct the Grizzlies.

The point guard took charge and mobilized his teammates for a mini-camp in Memphis this week.

Conley, Rudy Gay, Tony Allen, O.J. Mayo, Zach Randolph, Xavier Henry and Sam Young reunited at a local gym early Tuesday. Ish Smith and second-round draft pick Josh Selby were expected to join the group Wednesday.

"I've been prepared all summer to do this," Conley said. "It's my job as the point guard. I want to be one of the leaders on the team. And guys did a great job of keeping their word and coming in on time ready to work.
via Mike Conley organizes workouts for Memphis Grizzlies » The Commercial Appeal

If you were around the Grizzlies at any point last season even for a game, you'd see Conley's influence as a leader. He stayed the longest at practice most days, he was constantly talking with coach Lionel Hollins, and he was almost always in a position to make sure his teammates were prepared. There were times when his late-game execution and decision making was confusing, but then, he also made some huge plays in those key situations. He's still growing into his role in the NBA and with the Grizzlies, but this is a tremendous example of taking the next step in terms of leadership. Being the guy to get everyone together, to instill discipline, that puts him at another level. 

The roster of those attending is interesting. Randolph had said he wanted to help organize such a workout. Tony Allen coming just shows his commitment. Gay has been active in getting back into his role with the team as he recovers from shoulder surgery. Sam Young is in need of constant coaching to improve his knowledge of where to fit in on the floor. Then there are the others. 

O.J. Mayo electing to join the team is notable in and of itself, after Mayo was nearly traded at the deadline following a short suspension for a banned substance and was involved in a fight with Tony Allen. Mayo recovered and acted professionally on the floor throughout the year, and came through for Memphis in the playoffs. He's also a restricted free agency when the season resumes. But Mayo has spoken about the comfort level he has with this team and it shows. 

Then there's Xavier Henry. Henry was a highly touted lottery pick, who suffered a knee injury, then vanished from the active roster. He was invisible during the playoffs and there have been concerns over his relationship with Lionel Hollins. His working out with the team is a good sign, as he could use some time among the veterans in Memphis, as could Josh Selby, another Jayhawk the Grizzlies drafted. Selby plummeted to the second round after being considered a lottery pick over character and attitude questions. But Selby has also been in good company this summer, playing alongside NBA stars like LeBron James through his connection to Carmelo Anthony's Team Melo, as well as his work at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas. 

Conley is still not an elite point guard in this league and likely will never be. But his consistency and work ethic, along with this kind of leadership shows why that extension wasn't just at good market value, it was probably a steal. If you need me, I'll be in the corner staring at the wall until my detention is up.  
Posted on: June 1, 2011 12:06 pm
 

Bulls, Grizzlies rumored to want Monta Ellis

Posted by Matt Moore

Monta Ellis has entered into that rather uncomfortable zone where he's not traded, but everyone expects him to be. He's not gone, but it's kind of assumeed he will be. He's still with Golden State, only not really. He's been rumored to have been on the trade block for close to a year now, with Stephen Curry considered the guard of the future.

Now the Contra Costa Times reports that the Warriors are considering trading Ellis again, and more aggressively following the makeover planned by new owners with Joe Lacob leading the charge. The addition of Jerry West to the ownership and front office group only strengthens that idea, with Ellis being considered the bait to kickstart the reshaping of the Warriors in a more defensive-minded structure. The Contra Costa Times' Tim Kawakami lays out both sides of the argument for trading or not trading Ellis, and brings up the Bulls and Grizzlies as those in consideration for a trade:

 
Then there is the matter of getting the right deal for Ellis, who is due $11 million in each of the next three seasons.

After checking with a few NBA sources, two teams kept coming up — both with the combination of potential interest and the right roster pieces to intrigue West and the Warriors.

They were:

Chicago, which might have been a big-time perimeter scorer away from pushing Miami to the brink in the Eastern Conference finals. Would the Bulls think about Luol Deng for Ellis? Could the Warriors sweeten that offer?

And Memphis, West’s old team, which has Rudy Gay at a huge salary and which offered O.J. Mayo for Ellis in the recent past.

That doesn’t mean it will be easy for the Warriors to trade Ellis — emotionally or practically. It will take some guts. But again, that’s precisely why West was brought to the Warriors in the first place.
via Trade Monta Ellis? Jerry West just might be the guy to do it | Talking Points.

The Grizzlies from all indications have no intention of trading Rudy Gay, despite the team's success without him in the playoffs. Multiple reports have surfaced linking the Grizzlies to trade talks for Gay, but almost all come from media on the other side of the trade, not from Memphis. The Grizzlies would love to have Ellis, as Kawakami mentions the near Mayo-Ellis swap, but Mayo's value is no longer high enough to support such a trade, if it ever was to begin with. As a result, Memphis is an unlikely target.

The Bulls are an interesting fit. Coach Tom Thibodeau has taken players with questionable defensive ability (Keith Bogans, Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver) and made them a part of the best defensive unit in basketball. Could he manage to cover Ellis' defensive liabilities in the same manner while adding a pure scorer to work off-ball with Rose and give the MVP a break from hoisting the offense on his shoulders. This would make a lot of sense from a lot of angles, but giving up Deng is giving up the emotional backbone of the Bulls and a key locker room guy, not to mention their best wing defender. The Bulls would be in a jam were they to make the move.

Still, the odds seem to be increasing that Ellis will not be in the Bay when the NBA kicks back up again.... whenever it kicks back up again.  
Posted on: May 22, 2011 11:59 am
Edited on: May 22, 2011 6:56 pm
 

Rose denies saying PEDs 'huge' issue in NBA

Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose says the NBA has a "huge" issue with performance enhancing drugs. Posted by Ben Golliver. derrick-rose-usa

Update (2:02 p.m.): Rose denied making the "huge issue" statement to CBSSports.com's Ken Berger through a team spokesman. The Chicago Tribune reports that a source close to Rose said the question was phrased differently than was presented in the article. Here's more from CBSSports.com's Ken Berger, including thoughts from Miami Heat All-Star guard Dwyane Wade and an official statement from Rose released Sunday afternoon.

Original Post:

The 2011 NBA MVP knows what he would like to see changed about the league.

In a survey of PED use in various sports in the May 16 issue of ESPN: The Magazine, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose was asked to rank its prevalance on a scale of 1-10, with one signifying "What are PEDs?" and 10 meaning "Everybody's juicing!"

Rose's response: "Seven. It's huge and I think we need a level playing field, where nobody has that advantage over the next person."

By comparison, James Laurinaitis of the NFL's St. Louis Rams also ranked his league's problem with PEDs a 7. The only sports to receive higher rankings from their representatives: Boxing (10) and MMA (8). MLB was ranked a 5.

While PEDs have been an ongoing black mark for both the NFL and MLB, the NBA has largely avoided any controversy on the subject. Indeed, the general assumption has long been that NBA players would not resort to steroids or other performance enhancers because they need agility and athleticism rather than raw power and bulk.

A major reason for that assumption has been the lack of players -- especially prominent players -- caught by the league's anti-drug program. Rose's statement appears to call into question that program, which includes testing for both illegal and performance-enhancing drugs.

Its two biggest catches: back in August 2009, then Orlando Magic forward Rashard Lewis was suspended 10 games for PEDs. In January 2011, Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo suffered a similar fate.

But if the current policy isn't producing a "level playing field," what is it doing? If the league's strongest point guard -- a player who can get to the rim against every team in the league and who has a lot to lose by speaking his mind -- feels like things are unfair, this is potentially a very serious problem, right?

Hat tip: IamaGM.com
Posted on: May 15, 2011 7:41 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 6:01 am
 

Series Grades: Thunder down Grizzlies in 7

Grading an epic series between the Thunder and Grizzlies.

Posted by Matt Moore



Here are grades for the grueling seven-game series between the Thunder and Grizzlies that brought us the hero James Harden, a grueling triple-overtime, and the continuing legends of Zach Randolph and Kevin Durant.


Oklahoma City Thunder


Kevin Durant: An up-and-down series for the scoring champ. When he was good, he was superb. When he was bad, his team was sunk. Durant had a few bad games in this series and that went a long way in driving the series to seven games despite the Thunder matchup advantages. He was superb in Game 7 though, as expected, working off-ball to get his game back on track after a rough start. Durant's ability to draw fouls went a long way in this series, as the Grizzlies could seemingly do nothing defensively without collecting fouls. Throw in his leadership and you have a good series, obviously, with the win, but also one that brought questions about his ability to create space and get the ball. If Russell Westbrook caught flak for being too aggressive, Durant quietly started establishing questions about not being enough so. But again, a win is a win and Durant was a huge part of it.


Grade: B+


Russell Westbrook:  Our own Royce Young will be happy to tell you about how Westbrook wasn't any different in this series than he ever has been, and that too much of the blame was put on Westbrook for his play. But the issue with Westbrook isn't that he's not getting the ball to Durant. That's on Durant. The problem is that too often Westbrook goes to his own playbook, his own aggressivness. He forces drives that end in charges, he elects for the jumper with slashers going to the rim, he lacks the patience to reset the offense. But all of those negative things don't change the fact that the biggest reason the Thunder won this series was Russell Westbrook and his undaunted assault on the rim. Westbrook knew the Grizzlies had no option to contain him on the perimeter, and attacked relentelessly. If that was sometimes to a fault, it shouldn't outweigh how good he was in finishing and piling up easy points at the rim. Westbrook closed with a triple-double on a bad shooting night, but amassing tons of rebounds on both sides of the floor and getting teammates involved. Did Westbrook cost the Thunder two games? Probably. But they wouldn't have won the four they did without him.

Grade: A-


James Harden: James Harden had the series of his life. He's been en fuego since the trade deadline, and stepped it up in this series. If the Thunder couldn't have won without Westbrook, Harden was a close second. Knocking down 3s, driving, collecting fouls, stealing the ball, and being a distributor, which is huge, especialy when Westbrook is in hero mode. The Grizzlies had no cover for Harden. When he started to insert himself in the series, that was when it changed. 

Grade: A+


Nick Collison: They kept talking about how he's Mr. Intangibles, but Collison's production was pretty tangible. Rebounds, blocks, and missed field goals for Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Collison did the job Ibaka could not, taking the Grizzlies' dominance inside away. Again, as the series progressed, he took over. The Grizzlies' biggest advantage was inside, and Collison negated it. Huge minutes from the former Jayhawk. If he can keep that up against Dirk... yeah, just kidding. But seriously, good series. 


Grade: A


Scott Brooks: Failed to get final possessions set up well. Failed to get Westbrook in line. Failed to create an offense with cohesion outside of "run fast at the rim and either score or get fouled." Failed to give Harden significant minutes over Thabo until the end. Got the win. Scott Brooks is an incredible developmental coach and defensive mind. But this series may have begun the question about whether he can be the guy, should the Thunder not win the title. But hey, win and no one will care.

Grade: C


Thunder Crowd: Phenomenal, as always. Many people questioned whether OKC's crowd would be any good when they moved from the vaunted Seattle fanbase. Instead, the Thunder crowd are showing the greatness of small market crowds who are rabid, early, and loud, every game, every minute. Standing ovation for their standing ovation.

Grade: A+


Memphis Grizzlies


Zach Randolph: Randolph had two huge games, Game 1 and Game 6, where he won the game nearly by himself. He was a monster in those games. In the others? He struggled. His inability to adjust to the officiating or create space, or find Marc Gasol when the double came hurt the Grizzlies. Randolph was the focal point of the defense and still produced, but you still walk away feeling like if he could have been a little more efficient, it would have been enough for Memphis to advance in the West. Shouldn't take away what has been an incredible postseason from him. 

Grade: B-


Mike Conley: Conley is in a rough spot with Memphis. He's relied upon to hit shots from the perimeter when no one else can, but not take too many shots. He needs to distribute, but if others aren't hitting, he has to score. He gets killed for being a defensive liability but has to guard the second best player on each team. Conley needed to be flawless for this series. He wasn't. He was average. Which isn't bad, it just wasn't enough for Memphis to overcome the mismatches.

Grade: C+


Marc Gasol: Where did the beast go? OKC was able to hammer Gasol time and time again and without getting the calls, Gasol couldn't respond. Perkins and Ibaka contributing on offense reflects badly, but more importantly the work done on the offensive glass really takes the wind out of what was his coming out party.

Grade: C


O.J. Mayo: Step on up trade partners! Mayo had a phenomenal playoff series, and was the biggest reason the Grizzlies forced this to seven games. He did fantastic work, and actually won the matchup with Harden until Game 4. If Mayo's still on the market, he's going to elicit some big offers this summer. A great comeback story for Memphis, and parallels the city and team's resilience.

Grade: A-


Lionel Hollins: Hollins had no advantages outside of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol and that was slim. He faced an uphill battle these entire playoffs and took the 8th seed to a seventh game against a star studded young team after a grueling first round series against the best team in the West record-wise. He had the Grizzlies respond to a Game 5 beatdown to force Game 7 despite every reason to quit. Hollins made mistakes trusting Sam Young too much and not reigning in Tony Allen's offense. But he did a phenomenal job getting the team this far. 

Grade: A-


Game 4:
A triple-overtime thriller between two great small-market teams with young rosters, giving everything they got. We had ten great moments from it. There could have been 20 more. Arguably the best game of the playoffs. 

Grade: A+

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com