Well, that was painful.
Admittedly, I was spared Kevin Durant’s 14 point first quarter barrage. I was taking a final exam which started at 7PM (yes, that’s a thing), and perhaps it was an omen that gauging my eyes out Oedipus Rex style (maternal incest aside) would have been less excruciating than watching the 30 minutes that I did. After awkwardly speed walking back to my apartment, I proceeded to curse Ed Malloy, Ken Mauer, and Rodney Mott as they abused the Grizzlies with their whistles.
9:45- 2 minutes and 15 seconds pass and I’ve thrown around enough expletives to warrant a visit to the nearest parish. 4 quick fouls on the Grizzlies and none on the Thunder, Dave Joerger earns a technical.
8:26- A fifth team foul for Memphis sentences them to the penalty. Free throws for the Thunder the rest of the quarter, because you know the calls are coming. Westbrook makes both.
6:13- Tayshaun Prince commits the sixth team foul. Durant sinks the first. James Johnson checks in, much to Joerger’s chagrin. Durant sinks the second. A 15 point deficit has increased to 20.
5:50- Gasol is pick pocketed by Westbrook
5:47- Johnson fouls Durant on the shot. He makes both free throws.
5:20- Perkins is whistled for a moving screen. First Thunder foul of the quarter. Perk gives his best mean mug, but really just frowns regretting his pre-game meal.
S**t Gets Real
5:03- Tony Allen attacks the ball, possessed by the plump Caron Butler. Butler fears for the plastic straw on which he religiously chews. He’s rationing it throughout the game as a gluten free snack. His head snaps back, drawing a foul. He almost chokes, and the strategy nearly backfires. A confrontation ensues involving Butler, Tony Allen, and James Johnson.
(Side Note): James Johnson, a second degree black belt, is the son of two black belts, and the brother of 7 siblings (all black belts). He was 18 when he won his first MMA fight in 97 seconds, is 7-0 all time, and 20-0 in kickboxing fights. Don’t screw with James Johnson. Did I mention Tony Allen is also present. ZBo can’t be far either.
For more on dojo master James Johnson: (http://grantland.com/the-triangle/they-call-him-bloodsport-james-johnson-kicks-his-way-into-the-nba/)
A double technical is assessed to Butler and Johnson. Nervously chomping down on his pacifier, I mean straw, Butler misses the first of two free throws. He cleans his britches and makes the second.
1:17- Tempers cool, kind of, as almost 4 minutes pass before another foul is issued. #2 on the Thunder, god forbid. Johnson draws the infraction on New Zealand ogre Steven Adams. “Bloodsport” makes both shots.
0:43- Kevin Durant draws a foul, splits the pair from the line.
0:02- Westbrook is feeling left out, and that simply won’t fly on his watch. He draws a foul on Big Spain to close out the quarter, making both free throws.
0:00- End of 3rd Quarter. Thunder lead 82-61.
Fouls in 3rd Quarter
Granted, the final count was 19-19, but the damage was done.
Overall, very disheartening. Despite the lackluster, nonchalant performance with the usual abundance of missed free throws, the Grizzlies still had opportunities to make a game out of it. After the Johnson-Butler showdown, the energy shifted back in Memphis’ favor, but the Grizz never made up enough ground to threaten the Thunder.
Adding insult to injury, or perhaps the other way around, Mike Conley left in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury. He tried to return, but was extremely hobbled. In the post game interview, he admitted to feeling pain but remarked “I plan on playing…There’s no chance I miss it.”
The Grizzlies are 0-2 all time in game 7s. In 2011, Memphis lost to OKC in the conference semifinals. A year later, they lost at home to the Clippers in the first round, unable to escape the damage of blowing a 27 point lead in game 1.
Hey, there’s no time like the present right?
Saturday, May 3rd
7:00 PM Central
Chesapeake Energy Arena, OKC.