It received a standing ovation at the Fed Ex Forum in Memphis, TN. If it had happened at Chesapeake Energy Arena, it would have perplexed Loud City into a moment of stunned silence. Despite being on the injury list mere hours before tip-off, Marc Gasol had informed the Grizzlies’ front office that his knee was ready to go, and that he wished to return to action. For a Grizzlies team desperately battling towards a .500 record, his admission was very welcome news, hence the standing ovation from the hometown crowd.
This was a close game pretty much the entire way. The Thunder’s largest lead all night was 7, and the Grizzlies largest lead was 12. In the end, Gasol’s return, combined with Zach Randolph’s presence, meant two gigantic bodies in the paint for the Grizzlies that killed opportunities at low-post points for the Thunder. Although the Thunder entered halftime up 47-43, the low-post defense of the Grizzlies really clamped down in the second half. That clamp-down made sure the Thunder rarely saw easy looks at the basket, and forced them to work for every bucket. Once all was said and done, the Thunder fell just short, as the Grizzlies claimed a 90-87 victory that puts them at 18-19 for the season, while dropping the Thunder to 28-10.
Kevin Durant’s 37 points led all scorers, but just wasn’t enough to get the job done. On the plus side, at least a couple of other Thunder players tried to pick up the slack. Reggie Jackson dropped 17 for the game, and Serge Ibaka contributed 11 points, while being 1 rebound shy of another double-double.
Gasol had 12 points in his return to action, while his low-post partner, Randolph, had a 23-point, 13-rebound double-double. Mike Conley dropped 19 points, and Courtney Lee led all Grizzlies scorers with 24.
The Thunder don’t have much time to lick their wounds, as they head to Toyota Center in Houston, TX to face the Rockets. While tip-off is listed at 8:30 pm CST, it is the back-end of TNT’s double-header. They often list tip-off for the second TNT game at 8:30 CST, but don’t usually tip until about 30 minutes to an hour later. If I were you, I’d expect it to be around 9pm to 9:30 pm CST. If you can’t get to a TV, or don’t have cable, you can also catch the broadcast on WWLS The Sports Animal.