2013 NBA Playoffs: Thunder vs Grizzlies, OKC player grades for game 3

The Thunder dropped a 2nd close game to the Grizzlies, losing 87-81 in Memphis. Here is how each player contributed to the closely fought affair.

The Thunder fell behind the Grizzlies in the series, 2-1 after a tough 87-81 loss in Game 3. The Thunder are still looking for solutions to problems that they've never had to cope with before. Here is how each player performed.

Game 3's graders are Alex and myself.

KEVIN DURANT

25 points on 9-19 shooting, 2-6 from 3-point range, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 3 turnovers


Grade Comments
Alex Grade_bplus_medium
Kevin Durant has officially been recognized as "The Carrier" of the Thunder from this point forward. He's been remarkable not only in this series, but the Playoffs as a whole. Durant dropped 25 points, grabbed eleven boards, and cashed in five dimes. Also, he decreased his turnovers from the five in game two, to three in game three. The down-part of Durant's game Saturday was his performance in the fourth quarter. Durant can't continue to carry the Thunder like this, though. It may be the only way, but it may not be the winning way.
Sherman Grade_b_medium As noted above, Durant's energy stores seem to wear out by the end of these past 2 games. He's playing a ton of minutes while being the sole focus of the Memphis defense. Russell Westbrook's 3rd quarter runs often gave Durant a break he needed to gear up for the 4th. Now, OKC is both struggling in the 3rd and not finishing well. On top of that, Durant missed 2 huge free throws at the end of the game that would have given OKC a legitimate shot to tie or win.

REGGIE JACKSON

16 points on 7-15 shooting, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, steals, 1 turnover


Grade Comments
Alex Grade_b_medium Reggie Jackson played fast-paced, controlled basketball all afternoon. Jackson recorded a double-double with 16 points and ten rebounds in thirty-eight minutes. He made defenders look silly, breaking ankles with crossovers and passes, but assists were a problem. Jackson moved the ball around plenty, just not under the basket quite enough, getting only two assists to his credit. Giving Jackson some leeway, he's still getting into rhythm with the team, but this is not time for rookie mistakes. It's time to look like a veteran and Reggie has done a pretty good job with that.
Sherman Grade_b_medium All of the great things Jackson did during the majority of the game were all but undone by his performance in the final 90 seconds of play. Jackson is getting some harsh lessons in playoff reality, that no matter what you do in the game, if you can't avoid costly mistakes at the end, you become a liability. Combined with Jackson's mental mistake at the end of game 1 (fouling Quincy Pondexter's 3-point attempt) with his offensive foul and unnecessary foul on Mike Conley, Jackson has a lot to think about going into game 4.

SERGE IBAKA

13 points on 6-17 shooting, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks, 1 turnover


Grade Comments
Alex Grade_c_medium
Serge Ibaka played well for the Thunder on Saturday. He recorded a double-double with thirteen points and ten rebounds in thirty-eight minutes. Also, Ibaka added four blocks. He played most likely his best game of the series, but is he going to keep it up? Knowing Serge, probably not. He still shot 6-for-17, not great, but not horrible. Moral of the story, Ibaka played above average for him as of late, but he needs to continue to play like that and I'm happy.
Sherman Grade_bminus_medium
If I asked you at the beginning of the series whether it would be more important for Ibaka to play great offense or great defense, which would you have chosen? I believe we're getting what many of us would have chosen, yet it is becoming clear that if Ibaka can't be a 2-way player, the Thunder's margin for error turns negative.

KENDRICK PERKINS

2 points on 0-4 shooting in 17 minutes, 3 rebounds, 1 turnover


Grade Comments
Alex Grade_f_medium
Kendrick Perkins. What is there to say that hasn't been said? Nothing. He's embarrassing. It's sickening that our starting center, who is supposed to be a championship contributor, is sitting on the bench more than he's playing. Also, he's only scoring two points with three boards in game three? Ugly, Perkins. He's increasingly disappearing.
Sherman Grade_dplus_medium Perkins' offense was never a point of debate. His defense however, has been justified by the team's ability to stop other teams. Unfortunately for Perk, OKC is stopping the Grizzlies while he's on the bench. I'm not sure what has happened to Perk, but it is very difficult to justify his presence on the court now, especially when Kevin Durant is defending Marc Gasol competently.

THABO SEFOLOSHA

2 points on 0-4 shooting, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover


Grade Comments
Alex Grade_dplus_medium
Thabo Sefolosha didn’t play like his normal self, scoring wise and time wise. Getting only 18 minutes, Thabo scored just two points (2-for-2 on Free Throws) and four rebounds. It’s scary to see players at a low level in serious situations. Thabo’s not a small dude, so he has the capability of getting to the lane, but also getting some outside shots with his ball handling skills. Thabo Sefolosha only shot two three pointers, and four field goals overall, meaning he shot 0-for-4 with two points. STEP IT UP!
Sherman Grade_c_medium Sefolosha once again played solid defense when he was utilized, helping shut down Mike Conley in the game. However, that is what he's always done. However, what OKC needs Thabo to do now is be the scorer he has been over the course of the season, and Thabo has not been able to do it. He is yet another example of how the loss of Westbrook hurts. Westbrook more than any other guy worked his butt off to set up Thabo's 3-point attempts, and without Russ, those open looks are hard to come by.

KEVIN MARTIN

13 points on 6-17 shooting, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover


Grade Comments
Alex Grade_b_medium Kevin Martin did a great job substituting in for Thabo Sefolosha gaining 33 minutes of the bench. In that time, Martin scored thirteen points on 6-for-17 shooting along with three rebounds. That’s not a bad game for KMart, meaning he has the ability to score when someone can’t. We have seen a big amount of games including better production from Martin, though. We know that Martin would be a great scorer when we acquired him, but he needs to breakdown the Grizzlies and show them what we know.
Sherman Grade_c_medium Martin is to be commended for not turtling under pressure the way he began to do against the Rockets. Unfortunately, his performance is still average at best. In a series where Martin could really help determine a number of future outcomes - a series win and a place on the Thunder roster next year, he has not lived up to the lofty expectations on him.

NICK COLLISON

2 points in 14 minutes, 8 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 turnovers


Grade Comments
Alex Grade_c_medium It’d be a bit steep to give Collison a D after last night’s performance. He did get into foul trouble (5) with only fourteen minutes played, though. The stat that scares me: two points. The stat that I love: 8 rebounds. Collison works the boards, and passes the ball back out. Not always the best idea, but Collison knows what he is doing most of the time. If you look at Marc Gasol from Memphis, he got to the line nine times, while Collison didn’t get to the line at all. He played average for his standards, but I would’ve loved to see more scoring production than anything from Nick Collison.
Sherman Grade_bplus_medium It is becoming clear that the refs are not allowing Collison to play the same kind of game he has employed against the Grizzlies bigs in the past. Previously, he had been able to push and pull against Randolph and Gasol, but in this series he has already picked up 15 fouls through 3 games. It is incumbent on Nick to adjust his game because they need his offensive ability on the court. Even so, 8 boards in 14 minutes is a sign of what he can bring to the table.

DEREK FISHER

8 points on 3-8 shooting, 1-5 from 3-point range, 2 turnovers


Grade Comments
Alex Grade_c_medium Yes, I know, he didn’t play good outside of the eight points. Zero rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks; You’d expect more out of Fisher. The two turnovers is also a concern. He’s a veteran point guard, meaning he’s been through this as a starter. Now as a backup point guard, Fisher is needed to give good minutes off the bench, which he did, and move the ball for an open shot. He shot the ball well, but no assists? Come on Fish!
Sherman Grade_cminus_medium
Fisher's elevated performance seems to have regressed to the mean, at least for Game 3. Fisher gets the minus onto his grade for that horrendous 3-point attempt he had with 21 seconds remaining. Jackson's charge was bad, but this shot I would argue was worse because it was OKC's last best attempt to keep them within range as the clock ran out, and he did not recognize the best chance to score.

DEANDRE LIGGINS

0 points, 2 rebounds in 8 minutes


Grade Comments
Alex Grade_b_medium DeAndre Liggins is put into the game to give some players a breather, and just gives some good minutes off the bench. Liggins put in eight minutes and grabbed two rebounds. He didn’t take any shots, which he learned how to do the hard way. So, not a bad game for Liggins. He transitioned well and got aggressive.
Sherman Grade_c_medium
Liggins continues to be a solid contributor off the bench. Most importantly in this series, he is not prone to giving up defensive mistakes to the Grizzlies. In a series where points are at a premium, that kind of defensive focus matters.

SCOTT BROOKS


Grade Comments
Alex Grade_d_medium
Classic Coach Brooks, the same old guy who thought it was genius to start Perkins. We need to run the offense, first of all, and second of all, we need a Kendrick Perkins free offense. Playing Kevin Durant the entire game isn't a horrible idea, but he could use thirty seconds here and there. Keep coaching, Brooks.
Sherman Grade_b_medium Despite the Thunder's inability to score in Game 3, Brooks still did a solid job getting his team to stay within the confines of the game. They could have easily fallen apart during Memphis' 2nd quarter or 3rd quarter runs, but OKC held fast and that is testament to Brooks' coaching. He trusted that Durant could guard Gasol for stretches, and Durant almost made a game altering steal at the end. His shortcoming in the game is that he still isn't able to generate hardly anything easy for OKC, and that is in part reflected in their poor shooting.


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