Well, the news came out earlier today that Durant could miss as much as two weeks, with his severly sprained ankle. I think I can speak for all Thunder fans when I say, it could have been a lot worse. I certainly wish him a quick recovery, but him being out of the lineup isn't necessarily a bad thing for the growth and development of the rest of the team. Sometimes it seems as though the Thunder rely a little too much on Durant, and with him out, it forces some of the other guys to step up to the plate, and thats exactly what happenend tonight. For starters, Thabo Sefolosha (15p/11r) and Jeff Green (27p/10r) both had double-doubles, and Nick Collison was 1 rebound, and 2 points away from a double-double of his own. Russell Westbrook also stepped up big tonight dropping in very respectable 25 points packaged with 7 assists, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals....and *cough* ahem, 5 turnovers *cough.* Pardon me, nasty little cough I had there.
The Thunder did something tonight we always hope to see, but rarely do, get out to an early lead. Right off the bat the Thunder jumped up on top of Memphis on the scoreboard and seemingly held that lead all night long. Throughout the night the Grizzlies would pull back to within 5 or so points before the Thunder would open back up to a double digit lead. It kind of went that way all night until the fourth quarter, the same thing continued, but the Grizzlies got a little too close for comfort towards the end, and even had Thunder fans wondering if they were watching another 4th quarter meltdown. This wasn't the case, and the boys closed out the game nicely with a 99-92 road victory, only their 4th this season.
This was also the 4th and final game of the OKC/Memphis seasonal series, and its a series that the Thunder won outright with 3 wins to 1 loss. For a team with just 14 wins, the probability of winning any seasonal series is pretty slim, but the Thunder have one in the bag, and won't have to worry about not having bragging rights over another team for the 2008/09 season.
Curiously, Joe Smith, was once again absent from playing tonight. One has to wonder if the Thunder are close to a contract buyout, which would allow him to sign with another team for a playoff run. The deadline for being on a roster and playoff eligible is tomorrow, so if its going to happen, his buyout and signing to another team will have to happen quickly. Stay tuned.
We also saw "Sleeves" for the first time in a month tonight, and Robert put in some decent minutes, considering. Considering he hasn't played in seemingly forever. He clocked 13 minutes, and finished with 3 boards and 4 points. I don't know why, but I always root for the big guy, but wonder how much longer he'll even be with the team.
All in all, it was a solid team effort, and a lot of guys stepped up to the plate in Durants absense. The aqcuisition of Thabo Sefolosha is looking better and better all the time. He may not be the best shooter in the world, but I could watch that guy hustle all day, he just gets after it, and you have to love that about him.
Back home Monday for the Maverick Rematch.