Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

March 1, 2014

Durant, Thunder hold off Memphis

OKLAHOMA CITY — Kevin Durant often says he'll do whatever his team needs.

In the second half against Memphis, his mission was simply to score as often as possible. He had 30 of his 37 points after halftime to help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Grizzlies 113-107 on Friday night.

Durant made 10 of 15 shots and all eight of his free throws after halftime to help the Thunder hold off a furious rally.

"I just told myself to be aggressive, to score," said Durant, the NBA's scoring leader. "That's all I said to myself at half. I was frustrated with the shots I was taking. I felt that I wasn't disciplined. I worked my fundamentals. I just wanted to be aggressive to score. I think that's what my team needed."

Russell Westbrook had 21 points and six assists in 28 minutes, Serge Ibaka had 16 points and nine rebounds and Reggie Jackson added 14 points for the Thunder, who snapped a three-game losing streak.

Oklahoma City had dropped every game since Westbrook returned from his latest knee surgery — and nearly lost again because Mike Miller scored all 19 of his points in the fourth quarter to rally Memphis. Westbrook wasn't worried about the fact that the Thunder almost squandered the 16-point lead they had heading into the fourth.

"We won, that's what I'm going to take from it," Westbrook said. "We lost three in a row. We just won."

Marc Gasol had 17 points and Zach Randolph added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who had won five of six. Memphis ran into a team that was tired of losing.

"They're extremely talented, but they were very focused, locked in," Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. "They played at a very, very high level, I thought tonight, as well as I've seen them play against us in a long, long time."

Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha left in the first half with a left calf strain and did not return.

The Grizzlies made 26 of 40 shots in the second half, but couldn't stop Oklahoma City in the final minutes when the game got close.

The Thunder offense broke out of a lull in the second quarter when Westbrook returned from a rest. He scored 10 points in the final 5:36 to help Oklahoma City take a 57-42 lead at the break despite getting just seven points from Durant on 2-for-9 shooting.

Randolph was held to 2-for-10 shooting in the first half, and the Grizzlies shot just 38 percent.

Durant got it going in the opening minutes of the third quarter with a 3-pointer and a dunk to help Oklahoma City take a 65-47 lead.

Westbrook showed some of his old form when he froze Tayshaun Prince with a crossover dribble, then drained a mid-range jumper to give the Thunder a 70-55 edge.

Durant scored 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting in the third quarter to help the Thunder take an 87-71 lead at the end of the period.

Miller came off the bench and made three 3-pointers in the fourth to help the Grizzlies trim the deficit to 103-97 with 4:22 remaining.

"In the fourth quarter, our bench was unbelievable," Prince said. "We (the starters) put them in a bad situation and they almost got us out of it."

Memphis cut the margin to three before Durant made a baseline jumper on an assist from Westbrook with 1:24 to play, then a floater with 33 seconds remaining to seize control for good.

"We can't afford to dig ourselves a hole like we did," Grizzlies guard Mike Conley said. "They're too good of a team, especially at home. They came out and they wanted to win this game from the very beginning."

The Thunder finally resembled the team that has earned the top record in the Western Conference. They won for the first time since Feb. 13 and for the first time at home since Feb. 9

"It feels great," Durant said. "You never take it for granted. We learned a lesson after losing three in a row. It's tough to swallow, so it's good to get a W."

Text Only
Sports
  • Hooper.jpg Sparking the flame

    Sequoyah High School’s Justin Hooper looking to lead this year

    Last season was Justin’s last chance to play alongside Cody at Sequoyah High School.
    Justin had to battle to win the Indians starting tailback. The coaching staff did not know who was going to be the Indians starting running back coming into fall practice.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • NSU-fishing-team.jpg NSU teams compete in fishing tournament

    Three teams from Northeastern State University’s Bass Fishing Team competed in the Fishing League Worldwide College Fishing Tournament on Grand Lake in Grove on Saturday, June 21.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Johnson, East win easily at All-State

    Jake Johnson was able to hold off Lawton MacArthur’s Trent Meisel at the Class 5A state tournament in May. On Monday at the All-State tournament at Cherokee Hills Golf Club, Johnson had it much easier against Meisel.

    July 29, 2014

  • McMillan-blackboard.jpg Hometown brothers team up for RiverHawks football

    Northeastern State’s football program will include a pair of hometown brothers for the 2014 season.
    Mason McMillan returns for his sophomore season, and this year he will be reunited with his younger brother, Kourtland. The brothers graduated from Tahlequah High School – Mason in 2013, followed by Kourtland in 2014. At Tahlequah, Mason and Kourtland shared the gridiron for one season.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yurcich ready for second season

    With the 2014 season on the brink, Mike Yurcich, Oklahoma State University football offensive coordinator, is ready for his second year at the helm after coaching a powerful offensive squad a year ago.

    July 28, 2014

  • James_Ethan-(12)-vs.#2CC63C.jpg Back on the line

    RiverHawks’ Ethan James returns to the line healthy and ready for 2014

    RiverHawks offensive lineman Ethan James will enter the 2014 season healthy – something the team, and James, were not in 2013.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Sooners shifting several positions

    Experience comes from encountering the same things in the same ways over and over again. Oklahoma’s Geneo Grissom and Julian Wilson have that at defensive end and nickleback in bunches.
    However, both will be seeing new things when practice begins. Grissom is moving to outside linebacker. Wilson will be getting a look at cornerback as his senior season begins

    July 25, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • BobBowlsby.jpg Media Week: Change is coming

    Changes are coming to college athletics.
    That was the theme of the state of the conference speech by Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby on the first day of Big 12 Football Media Days.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Peterson.jpg Cowboy quandary: OSU defense trying to replace seven starters

    A year after the best defensive team in the Mike Gundy era, the questions now surround how those few returning starters and second-year defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer can maintain that high level of efficiency.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Press Sports Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Stocks