Kevin Durant hit a pull-up jumper with 11.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter to help send the Thunder to a 93-91 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Durant took control of things in the fourth quarter, where he scored 12 of his game high 35 points.
This was a great win for the Thunder, but it was a lost opportunity for the Grizzlies more than anything else. Memphis built a third quarter lead of as many as 12 points, and led by seven points midway through the fourth. But Durant closed the game by personally outscoring the Grizzlies 10-7 the rest of the way, while the Thunder finished on a 16-7 run to seal the victory.
Oklahoma City did a lot of things well in Game 1, and undoubtedly gained some confidence against a Grizzlies team many expected to win this series before it started. Kendrick Perkins was excellent defensively against Marc Gasol inside, particularly in the second half. Kevin Martin provided a much needed scoring boost for the Thunder for the second straight game, pouring in 25 points off the bench, 23 of which came in the game’s first three quarters.
The Thunder won the rebounding battle thanks to 15 from Durant, and seven each from Perkins and Martin to offset the 10 the Grizzlies got from both Gasol and Zach Randolph. Oklahoma City successfully packed the paint and limited the Grizzlies’ two biggest weapons inside, and as Memphis kicked it out to try to find open looks, they ended up shooting an uncharacteristically high 19 times from three-point distance, while connecting on just seven of those attempts.
The Grizzlies are going to need to win on the road in this series if they are to win it, and Game 1 had all the makings of an upset. Memphis had its chances, and even led late. They’ll need a stronger performance from Mike Conley moving forward, who finished just 5-of-15 from the field in this one, and (along with Randolph) has been the reason for the Grizzlies’ success to this point in the postseason.
But they can’t allow the game to be this close down the stretch. Because as he did in this one, Durant will simply take matters into his own hands and make sure his team ends up on the winning side.
Klay Thompson masters scoring while barely having the ball
Remarkably, he didn’t hijack the offense to produce those eye-popping numbers. Thompson shot a cool 21-of-33 from the field, and 20 of his baskets were assisted. In addition to Clark, Stephen Curry,Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Shaun Livingston all possessed the ball longer than Thompson.
In fact, nobody has come close to scoring so much while having the ball so little.
Here are the highest scoring games since the NBA began publishing possession time in 2013-14, marking points in time of possession:
The the second-lowest time of possession on that leaderboard was also by Thompson. He scored 52 points in 2:40 of possession against the Kings in 2015.
But even that game required more than a minute of extra touch time.
Who has scored the most points in a game while possessing the ball for fewer than two minutes? Again, Thompson litters the list – with last night blowing the rest out of the water:
Unlike previous examples of Armstrong making foolishpoints to protect his clients, this could be a path that bites his client.
Motiejunas’ rights here were collectively bargained, and they’re pretty clear here.
He has a right not to undergo the physical within two days of Houston matching, but that means the Rockets can hold him in limbo through March 1. On March 2, his offer sheet would become void, and he’d be a restricted free agent – and unable to sign with Brooklyn for a year. Houston could also elect to formalize its offer match or make him a restricted free agent – still without the ability to sign with Brooklyn for a year – at any point between now and March 1.
Motiejunas probably wants the Rockets to “fail” him on his physical, which would send him to the Nets under the terms of the offer sheet. I doubt he’d even need to actually come in for a checkup if the failing is prearranged. But that’d require Houston general manager Daryl Morey squandering an asset out of the goodness of his heart.
Otherwise, Motiejunas is heading toward exercising his right to not get paid – while losing the ability for one year to sign with the one team outside Houston we know wants him.
Report: Donatas Motiejunas no-shows physical after Rockets match Nets’ offer
Houston has a right to demand Motiejunas undergo a physical within two days of exercising its matching rights, which it did yesterday. Motiejunas is requires to answer questions truthfully and supply requested medical information.
If Motiejunas fails to meet those requirements, he hangs in limbo until the Rockets decide his fate.
At any time between now and March 1, they could elect to undo their offer-sheet match. That would invalidate Motiejunas’ offer sheet and make him a restricted free agent again, and the Nets couldn’t sign him for a year. On March 2, the same effect will become automatic.
I don’t see what Motiejunas gains by not reporting. If he fails his Houston physical, he’d go to Brooklyn on the terms of the offer sheet.