As it turns out, you can’t win every game that you’re down by double digits. The Thunder never found their offensive rhythm struggled defending the Grizzlies in a game where it felt like they were sleepwalking throughout. Here are ten takeaways:
1) Billy Donovan announced before the game that Gallinari would miss this game, and at least the next two games, as he is dealing with a sore ankle. Being precautious with this ankle injury is the best course to take as Gallinari is seen as the Thunder’s best trade asset this season. Darius Bazley took his starting spot this game and had three points on 1-5 shooting and four rebounds in 17 minutes tonight. Terrance Ferguson took up most of Gallinari’s minutes, as he finished with 35 minutes and was on the floor with the closing lineup.
2) The three-day Christmas Break had OKC’s offense look discombobulated tonight. The Thunder offense only scored 97 points on 41.8/ 29.4/ 84.6 team shooting splits. 97 points on 92 shots is a disgusting ratio for an NBA team.
3) The Thunder defense wasn’t that much better either. The Grizzlies scored 110 points on 54.8/ 40.0/ 72.7 team shooting splits. The third quarter was really the quarter that decided this game, where the Grizzlies scored 37 points on 70.0 FG%.
4) Brandon Clarke had another great game for the Grizzlies tonight against the team that initially drafted him. In their previous meeting, Clarke scored a career high 27 points on 13-19 shooting; tonight Clarke had 13 points on 5-6 shooting, which included going 2-2 from three. Coming into this game, Clarke only had 13 total made threes this season.
5) After a hot first quarter, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander cooled down the rest of the game. Gilgeous-Alexander scored 21 points on 8-19 shooting this game but scored nine of those points in the first quarter alone. You would like for Gilgeous-Alexander to be more aggressive as the game progresses but he only shot the ball 11 more times after that first quarter.
6) For a team that is 26th in the NBA in 3PMs a game at 10.3, the Thunder sure did take a lot of threes tonight. OKC went 10-35 from three, which is a high volume amount for this team. The Thunder falling in love with the three ball was a big reason as to why the Grizzlies were able to build a double digit lead throughout the game.
7) The defending Western Conference Player of the Week had an off game tonight. Dennis Schroder scored 20 points on 8-21 shooting. Schroder had a nasty ankle injury late in the fourth quarter and took his time getting up, hopefully it’s nothing serious. Schroder also made it known earlier this week that his goal is to be a starter but will do whatever the team wants him to do. This is an interesting mindset, Schroder is fourth on the team in MPG at 29.9 and leads the team in USG% at 28.1. Schroder also replaces Ferguson in the closing lineups. Essentially, Schroder is basically a starter without the title. But it’s probably a respect thing for Schroder when it comes to starting and it will be interesting to see how these type of comments affect teams who could be interested in trading for Schroder.
8) OKC made things interesting in the fourth quarter, cutting the Grizzlies lead as close as nine points. But their comeback efforts fell short this time as the hole they dug was too deep to crawl out of. As Billy Donovan noted last week, winning games where you trail by double digits is unsustainable and tonight was an example of that.
9) Chris Paul finished with a double double tonight. Paul had 23 points on 9-15 shooting and 11 assists along with six rebounds. Paul was the Thunder’s best player tonight and outperformed rookie sensation Ja Morant, who had just 10 points and three assists. The only negative of Paul’s performance was his lack of aggressiveness with scoring, Paul scored with ease tonight and should’ve taken advantage of that tonight.
10) Steven Adams had a quiet but productive game. Adams finished with 16 points on 7-10 shooting with six rebounds and four assists. Adams finishing with multiple assists is becoming more common and has been a great way to expand on his game. It was reported recently that the Atlanta Hawks are showing interest in trading for Steven Adams. Before the season started, Adams was seen as a potential salary dump in trade scenarios as his contract looked like a sunk cost. But now, the Thunder should look into getting assets back for Adams instead of just trying to dump his contract somewhere else with his improved play this season.