What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
It was disappointing that the Thunder would surrender to the Grizzlies so easily and get knocked out by a deficit of 21 points in their first game. It was kind of a flashback where it made me remember how the NBA Thunder team played against the Grizzlies in the 2014 NBA Playoffs. The teamwork was just as absent as it was during stretches of that series, with only two or three players actually keeping the effort in their game, and a lot of careless turnovers committed by the players.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder lost?
The absence of teamwork really ruined the Thunder's momentum, and it resulted in only a few players who really played with a huge amount of energy and effort. Besides that, the Thunder committed a lot of turnovers (26), which had an impact on the game. However, the Thunder played well in the first quarter as they led their opponents by 2 points (19-17), but after that point, the Grizzlies started out-executing the Thunder offensively, and the Thunder failed to match their consistent offensive tempo. The halftime period ended with the Grizzlies up 50-35. The Thunder were expected to come back in the third quarter but, unfortunately, the aspect of frustration took over them which left them unable to achieve a comeback, allowing the Grizzlies to extend their lead up until the end.
What was a key statistic to understanding the game?
Jeremy Lamb finished with 14 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks, but only shot 4-12 from the field, including 1-7 from the 3-point line. Perry Jones, meanwhile, exceeded expectations and did an amazing job on the floor as he contributed in many ways with 15 points, 1 block, 1 steal, 1 assist and 6 rebounds, while shooting 5-7 from the field, and 2-2 from behind the arc. Basically, Jones improved a lot in terms of shooting the ball from distance as well as from the midrange. He has a great amount of athleticism, which enabled him to attack the rim more often and finish easy shots.
The rookies like Mitch McGary and Semaj Christon actually held their own, combining for 16 points. McGary ended with 8 points, 1 assist and 3 rebounds and his energy level was something the Thunder can hope to build on going forward, Christon added 8 points, 1 steal and 4 rebounds on 2-4 shooting.
Overall, the Thunder shot just 39.2 percent from the field, 31.2 percent from 3-point range, and 60 percent from the foul line, while the Grizzlies shot 37 percent from the field, 50 percent from beyond the arc and 81.5 percent from free throws.
What does this game mean to the Thunder tonight and going forward?
This game was just an opening statement for the Thunder and their youngsters, so it was always important to them to start out strong in the league. Hopefully this game is going to motivate the team to play better in every aspect of the game, learn from their mistakes and be aggressive on the floor the next time out.
Next game: Sunday, 4 PM CDT versus Philadelphia 76ers.