Thunder at Memphis Grizzlies Game Recap – April 5, 2017

MEMPHIS – Russell Westbrook milked the clock down as far as he could, understanding that every second that slipped past was life for the Memphis Grizzlies. Then with a flick of the wrist, Westbrook effectively ended that last gasp of hope his opponents had for a victory.

In yet another display of his incredible clutch ability, relentlessness and well-rounded skill, Westbrook sealed the Thunder’s 103-100 victory over the Grizzlies with a 25-foot three-pointer from the top of the key to give the Thunder a four-point lead with 14.0 seconds to go. The ruthless dagger sent a shudder through the FedEx Forum in Memphis, and helped the Thunder secure at least the sixth seed in the Western Conference playoff standings.

First half. 16p-5a-3r-4s #Russ

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“It was a big game for us. It’s a conference game. We’re fighting for playoff position so it’s a good win for us,” Westbrook said. “We did a good job of sticking together on both sides of the ball and coming out with a win.”

Westbrook’s final display of marksmanship culminated a game where he was smoking hot from behind the three-point arc. The All-Star point guard channeled his All-Star Game persona by knocking down 8-of-13 three-pointers, tying his personal career high for most made threes in a game. In the third quarter, Westbrook hit all four of his three-point attempts, setting the stage for his two crucial three-point makes in the final two minutes of play.

Watch: Westbrook’s Hits Eight Threes

“The first couple he made he probably felt good and was able to get some space,” Head Coach Billy Donovan said. “He made some tough ones there.”

There was one other Thunder three-pointer in the closing two minutes, except this one game off a pass from Westbrook instead of directly off his fingertips. This one came after some excellent ball movement stretched the Memphis defense far beyond its limits, pulling too may defenders into the paint. Westbrook dished to the right wing, where Doug McDermott drained a three-pointer to break a 95-95 tie, giving the Thunder the lead for good.

Bud Light Photo of the Game.

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“Anytime you look down at the stat sheet and (McDermott) is getting up shots that’s good for our team,” Donovan noted. “Russell did a great job finding him and he knocked down a big three for us.”

10 points, 7 rebounds from Doug McDermott off the bench.

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McDermott played 32 minutes tonight, racking up 10 points to go with seven rebounds as he filled in for Alex Abrines, who missed the game with a sprained knee, and Andre Roberson, who sat out the second half of Wednesday’s game due to knee soreness. The relative newcomer helped spread the floor for the Thunder but also showed why his size and past life as a post player in high school and at Creighton can come in handy.

“It’s just staying ready and even when shots aren’t falling, just keep shooting them,” McDermott said of his time on the floor. “I tried to rebound because I know that Tony Allen and Vince Carter like to go to the boards so I was just aware of that tonight.

It was a tough game all night long between two teams jockeying for playoff position, and both teams had to weather storms. First it was Memphis whose backs were against the wall. The Thunder’s reserves ripped off a 10-2 run in the first half and the Thunder eventually built a 10-point lead thanks to 23 fast-break points and 18 points off turnovers in the first half alone.

“That was positive,” Donovan noted. “We got some steals and got out into transition. The big thing for us is that when we got stops, we got out.”

In the second half, however, Memphis gave the Thunder trouble, using an 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter to get Donovan’s club on its heels. The Grizzlies led by three with 7:43 to go, but the Thunder dug in and stayed with it until Westbrook delivered once again in crunch time, capping off a 45-point, 10-assist, nine-rebound, five-steal effort. He came up just shy of his 42nd triple-double of the season, but as he has all season long, he provided exactly what the Thunder needed precisely when his team needed it.

“We just kept hanging in there and playing,” Donovan said. Obviously Russell’s play down the stretch and the things he did were really impactful.”

Watch: Thunder Highlights

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By the Numbers

8 – Three-pointers for Russell Westbrook on the night, tying a career-high, on his way to 45 points

10 – Rebounds for Steven Adams on the night, as the Thunder out-rebounded the Grizzlies by six

26 – Fast-break points for the Thunder on the night, thanks in part to 25 points off of 14 Grizzlies turnovers

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The Last Word

“Russell was able to answer the bell on several different shots to keep us within striking distance at the end.” – Head Coach Billy Donovan

A W in Memphis! Russ scores 45.

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