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Thunder sounds rally cry in Game 2

  • Written by Kelley Evans
  • Published in News
On Saturday, the Grizz will be facing a younger, more physical team in the OKC Thunder than they did in the Spurs. Expect a battle. OKLAHOMA CITY – Here is the scenario: An NBA Western Conference Playoffs series, the Memphis Grizzlies win Game 1 on the road, then lose Game 2, setting up a pivotal Game 3 at the FedExForum on a Saturday.

Tuesday’s Game 2 was a bump-and-grind affair that had Serge Ibaka of the Thunder grimacing in pain after injuring his shouldering while fouling Memphis’ Mike Conley. (Photos by Warren Roseborough)

Shane Battier of the Grizz was on the hurting end of this Thunder pick that Nick Collison set for James Harden.

Sound familiar?

Sure it does. That’s the way the Round 1 series against top-seeded San Antonio unfolded. And an encore of sorts came into view when the Grizzlies fell to Oklahoma City 111-102 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Tuesday (May 3).

The difference?

On Saturday, the Grizz will be facing a younger, more physical team in the OKC Thunder than they did in the Spurs. Expect a battle.

Oklahoma City had a transparent agenda in Game 2: put the clamps on Memphis’ big man duo of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, and severely limit Memphis’ supply of bread-and butter scoring – points in the paint.

Randolph managed 15 points, hitting on only two of 13 attempts, with the remainder of his scoring coming at the free throw line.

Gasol was held to 13 points, scoring on three of nine attempts.

Mike Conley led the Grizz with a playoff career-high 24 points and eight assists. But he struggled defending Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, who scored 24points following Kevin Durant’s 26.

Grizz Head Coach Lionel Hollins said the key to the game was bench scoring, with the Thunder coming out on top, 46 to 29.

“We turned the ball over 16 times. You can’t turn the ball over and play good defense at the same time, it doesn’t work that way,” said Hollins.

“I think we turned the ball over too many times and we settled way too much. We didn’t get out there and attack…. We wound up making too many mistakes and it hurt us.”

Oklahoma City’s Head Coach Scott Brooks said his team hit the court with the right defensive mindset.

“We came out focused on how not to give them easy buckets,” he said. “I thought that set the tone for the game. They scored 17 points in the first quarter, and if I’m not mistaken, they only had four points in the paint and that was an area that we wanted to focus on and make sure we did a better job in.”

Brooks assigned Nick Collison to corral Randolph.

“I thought Nick (Collison) did a good job of just keeping a body on him and not giving him easy points around the paint,” Brooks said.

Gasol reflected on the Grizz and their jump shots.

“We hit some last game and this game we started the same way, but they just didn’t fall as much as last game,” he said.

Game 3 questions: Will the Thunder be able to deliver a repeat of the defensive job turned in on Randolph and Gasol? Will the Grizz be able to stop the Thunder’s fast breakers? Can Thunder guard Eric Manor take his shooting act on the road? Will the Grizz check the physicality of James Harden and limit his effectiveness coming off the bench with high-scoring power?

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