Oklahoma City Cuts Memphis In Half; Golden State’s Defense Beats Dallas

By: 02.01.13  •  2 Comments
Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook (photo. Rob Hammer)

We can just imagine Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins shaking his head. So you’re telling me you’re trading Rudy Gay and our first game without him is against Oklahoma City? Yes, and it wasn’t pretty, a small Grizzlies comeback notwithstanding in the second half Thursday in OKC’s 106-89 win. Memphis tied a season-low by scoring 34 points in the first half and fell behind by 25 because of a combination of OKC being freakishly good and the Grizzlies playing with zero energy and looking like someone just kicked their dog. One of the main reasons for dealing Gay to Toronto was that Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol can get more shots now. While that’s 100 percent valid, when Z-Bo misses his first 10 shots, as he did last night, suddenly all those shots freed up by Gay’s trade go to guys who can’t create their own shots nearly as well as Gay did, for better or worse. Mike Conley Jr. helped with 17 points on 19 shots and got most of that in the second half when Memphis found its pulse to pull within 10 points in the third quarter. The game was boring enough that Craig Sager spent most the fourth quarter investigating why Russell Westbrook (21 points) walked to the locker room near the end of the third. He and Thabo Sefolosha yelled at each other on a miscommunication play, Scott Brooks told him to cool himself off after getting some feedback from Russ, too, and assistant coach Mo Cheeks had to fetch him. It was like things were too smooth for Russ’s liking. … Kevin Durant‘s (27 points) best play was a defense-to-offense transition created all by himself. Jerryd Bayless (23 points) had the hubris to take KD one-on-one on the break and got stuffed for his effort, which led to a bucket the other way. KD, for the record, is not nice. … Grizzlies fans can’t even be sure this is the last part of the trade action, just like they shouldn’t have been sure (in hindsight) that the Ellington/Speights move was the last one simply because it got the team under the luxury tax barrier. GM Chris Wallace hinted that more wheeling and dealing could be in order today. Because when you’re in the middle of blowing up a four-seed in the West, why stop there? Seriously, we’ve read more about this Gay trade than any of the past year it seems, and no one likes it except for the few Pistons fans who still care — this Tayshaun Prince fan doesn’t count toward that group anymore. What just seems avoidable is the timing of the deal, when Gay’s deal doesn’t expire for a while and Memphis conceivably could have seen what this group could have done in the playoffs. In all that reading, it’s clear profits are paramount for the team’s ownership. We’ve got no issue with that of course, but even if you know Gay isn’t worth his $18 million next season, wouldn’t you want to see one playoff run with them all together? … Hit the jump to hear about Brandon Roy’s latest comeback hurdle. …

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