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Oklahoma City at Memphis

Thunder snap seven-game skid despite Durant's absence

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis coach Lionel Hollins smiled when told pregame that Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant wouldn't be in the lineup against the Grizzlies.

Hollins wasn't smiling after Saturday's loss to the Thunder.

Jeff Green had 27 points and 10 rebounds, Russell Westbrook added 25 points and Oklahoma City snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 99-92 victory over the Memphis on Saturday night.

"We missed him. It's tough to fill his shoes," Green said as Durant sat across the locker room holding a set of crutches. "We had guys to step up and play big for us."

Durant, the league's fourth-leading scorer at 26 points a game, was out because of a right ankle sprain suffered in the first quarter of Friday night's 110-108 overtime loss to the Dallas Mavericks. He's listed day to day.

Thabo Sefolosha, playing only his fourth game for Oklahoma City after a trade from Chicago, recorded 15 points and 11 rebounds, season-highs in both categories. Nenad Krstic also scored 10 points.

"That's something we have to do with Kevin out," Westbrook said of the offensive production from Krstic and Sefolosha. "We've got to step up our game and get everyone involved. Make it a team game."

Rudy Gay scored 20 points to lead Memphis, which lost its seventh straight. O.J. Mayo finished with 18 points, while Mike Conley had 17.

Oklahoma City led by 12 with 7:25 left before Memphis cut into the advantage, eventually getting within 95-92 when Mayo hit one of two free throws with 18.1 second left. But Memphis couldn't overtake the Thunder, primarily because Westbrook hit six of his eight free throws in the final 3:17.

"That's the best part. We finished it off," Green said. "We kept our composure. At the end, we got the stops we needed. That's what counts."

Memphis didn't help its situation with trouble from the free-throw line, shooting 63 percent (19-for-30).

Both teams shot well from the field early. Memphis was hitting at a 60 percent clip, but the Thunder hit nine of their first 10 shots for an early 13-point lead.

Sixteen of the Thunder's 29 first-quarter points were in the paint. Hollins said that was reflective of a lack of energy and enthusiasm.

"I thought at the start of the game, we didn't have either one, and I finally had a group that played a little bit," Hollins said of trying to find the right combination. "That has been a struggle, trying to get the start of the game with higher energy, higher effort."

The slow start led to the Grizzlies failing to reach 20 points in the opening stanza for the 21st time this season. Memphis has only won once when it doesn't score at least 20 to in the first quarter.

And if the scoring wasn't bad enough, Memphis was throwing the ball all over the place with wild passes, even after good plays. The 10 turnovers led to 15 first-half points for Oklahoma City.

"We gave them too many easy layups," Conley said. "There was too much penetration by their guards. They were shooting 90 percent at one point just because of their layups. They were making a lot of easy plays."

Hollins also noted that the 17 Memphis turnovers, leading to 25 Oklahoma City points in the game was a big problem.

"When they are running on our turnovers, it really hurts us," Hollins said. "We can't guard turnovers. We have to learn how to take care of the ball better, be sharper in our execution."

The Thunder, who led 56-45 at halftime, continued to maintain a double-digit lead through the early minutes of the third quarter, the advantage eventually reaching 15. Memphis would chip away, cutting it to 64-58 when Conley stole the ball and scored on a layup.

But Oklahoma City scored 10 straight to get the lead back to double digits before carrying a 77-61 advantage into the final period. Then, the Thunder weathered the last-minute rally by Memphis to escape with a win while playing without their biggest offensive weapon.

"We know that without Kevin, we have to step it up," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said, adding: "It was a total team effort. Everybody contributed."

Notes

  • Gay left the court limping after hitting the floor hard on a drive to the basket with 9:19 left in the third. Trainers retaped his ankle and he returned at the start of the fourth quarter.
  • In an interesting comparison, the No. 5 Memphis Tigers drew 18,454 for the afternoon part of the doubleheader where the Tigers defeated Southern Mississippi 58-42. Between the two games, a couple of inches of snow fell in the Memphis area, and a Grizzlies game that probably wasn't going to draw a big crowd anyway was affected even more. The announced attendance was 10,074, and that seemed a bit generous.
  • Because of the weather, the Grizzlies announced that those who missed Saturday's game could exchange their tickets for next Saturday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
  • Durant had missed only one other game this season, on Nov. 12 with left ankle soreness.
  • Both teams entered the game without a win since the All-Star break.
  • Memphis G Marko Jaric entered the game having missed his last 17 shots. He missed all four of his shots Saturday. It also has been noted that in the midst of the slump, he married supermodel Adriana Lima on Valentine's Day. "I would like to see him do whatever he can to make a hoop," Hollins said. "Whether it is go to the basket, get a steal, go down, and make a layup. Something."
  • The game featured two of the top three rookie scorers in the league. Mayo averages 19.2, while Westbrook is scoring at a 15.6 clip.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Russell Westbrook struggles from the field (5-for-17) but sinks 15 free throws to finish with 25 points.  (AP)
Russell Westbrook struggles from the field (5-for-17) but sinks 15 free throws to finish with 25 points. (AP)
Scoreboard
Oklahoma City (14-45) «2927212299
Memphis (15-43) 1728163192
OKC:J. Green 27 Pts
OKC:T. Sefolosha 11 Reb
OKC:R. Westbrook 7 Ast
MEM:R. Gay 20 Pts
MEM:M. Gasol 9 Reb
MEM:M. Conley 4 Ast
Players of the Game
MemphisOklahoma City

R. Gay

J. Green
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
207127102

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Oklahoma City
T. Sefolosha, SG415-135-7113115
R. Westbrook, PG415-1715-1747325
J. Green, SF408-208-9102227
K. Weaver, SG393-71-22128
N. Krstic, C265-80-030510
N. Collison, C294-90-09348
R. Swift, C132-40-03024
E. Watson, PG101-30-10112
M. Rose, PFDid Not Play
J. Smith, PFDid Not Play
C. Atkins, PGDid Not Play
D. Mason, SFDid Not Play
D. Wilkins, SGDid Not Play
K. Durant, SFDid Not Play
D. White, PFDid Not Play
Totals 33-8129-3642172099
 40.7%80.6% 
Memphis
O. Mayo, SG397-173-453318
M. Conley, PG347-153-464617
R. Gay, SG337-145-671320
M. Gasol, C271-30-39112
D. Arthur, PF166-71-230313
G. Buckner, SG212-32-23336
D. Milicic, PF213-31-55037
Q. Ross, SF191-40-02023
H. Warrick, PF171-30-04212
M. Jaric, SF130-44-40334
D. Miles, SF10-00-00000
A. Foyle, CDid Not Play
C. Mihm, CDid Not Play
M. Wilks, PGDid Not Play
H. Haddadi, CDid Not Play
Totals 35-7319-3044172892
 47.9%63.3% 
Other Games
Orl 106 Final
Phi 100
NY 115 Final
Mia 120
Hou 102 Final
Chi 105
Wash 93 Final
Mil 109
Sac 89 Final
Utah 102
Char 100 Final
LAC 95