Attacking The Boards: Memphis Takes Care Of The Thunder

This game was meaningful. For a random Friday night contest between two teams that were in the cellar last season, this game was very meaningful.

It meant something because this season, neither team is in the cellar. Not even close. Both teams have very talented, young rosters and both have a legit case for a playoff spot.

Five of the guys in this game attended the USA Basketball Showcase this summer that I was at, and all of them were good guys. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green, Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo.

Tonight, two of those guys were absolute studs, one was an important role player, and the other two were absent from all of the fun.

The two superstars were Kevin Durant and Rudy Gay.

Durant did his thing. Funny that a 21-year old going insane is a normal occurrence with Durant but that’s the result of all of the hard work he has put into it. He dropped 30 points on 23 shots, sinking 10 field goals and 10 free throws. He added eight rebounds to his totals but no assists.

The only problem with Durant’s average shooting night (for his standards)? With a second left, Durant had the ball with a chance to win the game and missed a 26-foot three point shot.

If you want to know who put the Thunder down two with that second left, you need not look further than Gay. Rudy hit a two-foot shot with 1.3 seconds left with Durant on him which would eventually win the game. That’s the second shot in as many games that Gay has hit a big shot late for the Grizzlies only they were able to win this one unlike the game against the Hornets.

Gay finished with 25 points and six rebounds. He sunk 10 of his 22 shots and went to the line seven times. If Memphis still has thoughts to trade him, they better go away quickly.

The important role player from the USA group of five was Jeff Green. Green defended Rudy Gay during key portions of this game and put together a 15 point, eight rebound and three block game. I know Durant was the best player on the floor in this game, but with Green coming up clutch in their previous two contests, I wonder what would have happened had he gotten the shot.

The two no-shows were Russell Westbrook and O.J. Mayo, though Westbrook’s game looks amazing compared to Mayo’s. Russell had eight points and seven assists but turned the ball over five times. Mayo on the other hand went one-for-12 from the field and turned the ball more times than he assisted (3:2).

Escaping my little USA group theme for a moment: Zach Randolph is an all-star. More on that later, but he just is. Z-Bo had 25 points, seven boards and a triplet of assists to help the Grizzlies pull out a W. Nobody on the Thunder can guard this guy. Nobody for OKC can handle Marc Gasol either. His 15 and 13 proved that Nenad Krstic can’t match up with him.

Rookie James Harden had an ultimate James Harden type of game: 13 points on three-of-six shooting, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.For the second straight game, not Chris Paul, but James Posey hit a game-winning shot for the Hornets. After getting the Grizzlies on a spin move in the lowpost, Posey went back to the same move against the T’Wolves to get a finger roll in as the buzzer went off.

Posey only had six points on the game, but at least he is starting to some of the things he was signed for, performing in the clutch being one of those intangibles he was boasted to have.

Paul lead New Orleans with a solid 23 points on 50% shooting. His nine assists were nice, too. CP3 also knocked down a super important three after turning the ball over in crunch time.

Now think about doing all of that with an eye swollen shut, or getting close to it. Paul had to play the last five minutes of the game with his vision blurry at best because of an elbow he got from Ramon Sessions.

David West scored 14 points in 12 minutes before leaving the game with his own injury, an ankle sprain.Supposedly an easy win after a tough loss turned into a hard fought game that Kobe had to bail the Lakers out of with a late dagger three and mid-range two. His supporting cast didn’t answer his call and Bryant had to recover from an off first half to pull out the victory.

Bryant had 27 points on 24 shots, with most of those misses coming in the first half. Kobe Bean also lead the Lakers in assists with six dishes and pulled down five rebounds. It wasn’t quite 61 like last year, but a win is a win, and there is a lot of things that excuse him for not dropping a new Garden record.

For one, Pau Gasol had another bad game. His 20 points on seven-of-11 shooting may impress at first, but Gasol only had eight rebounds and missed four free throws. His four blocks give the allusion that Gasol played some D, but that wasn’t the case. Opposing forward/center David Lee, who Kobe said should be an all-star after the game, dropped 31 points and 17 rebounds on LA.

Andrew Bynum had the offense, 19 points on 11 shots, but he too was ineffective on the glass. If it wasn’t for Lamar Odom, who rocked a purple headband, the Lakers would have been out rebounded by a very wide margin. But thanks to Odom, who had 14 boards (five offensive), the Lakers only got beat by two on the glass.

Wilson Chandler had 28 points in the losing effort.How this Blazers team even came close the Celtics without Brando Roy is beyond me. They play with so much heart that it’s hard to fathom another reason for their play other than their effort.

Rajon Rondo was the best player on the court for Boston, scoring 19 points on nine-of-14 shooting, with nine assists (six turns), six rebounds and two steals, but Andre Miller lit it up for 28/8/8 on the other end for the Blazers.

Martell Webster, who has become one of my favorite defend/shoot the corner three role guys in the NBA, couldn’t keep Paul Pierce from scoring. PP had 24 and did so with just four misses.The formula for beating a super hot Bobcats’ team? Jamal Crawford scorching off the bench.

Crawford came in and knocked down five triples en route to a 24 point night against Charlotte. He was assisted by Al Horford, who abused Nazr Mohammed and DeSagana Diop, had 23 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Josh Smith put together 14 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals to win many their fantasy match-ups for the week.

Gerald Wallace had 25 points to lead the game, while teammate Stephen Jackson added 24 and six.With Chris Bosh having an off game (just 17, seven, three and two), point guard Jarrett Jack went off for 27 points by making five-of-five of his two’s, two-of-four of his three’s and 11-of-12 free throws.

Does the tremendous play of Jack make Calderon expendable or does Jay Triano attempt to play them together or in a platoon of minutes? I think Jack can handle it.

Andrew Bogut had 22 points on eight-of-13 shooting with six boards and a trio of blocks.Troy Murphy had 16 and 11, Danny Granger had 25, Roy Hibbert had 14 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and a couple of steals, and Brandon Rush had 19 points. Balanced contributions from the starting five.

For Detroit? Not so much. Richard Hamilton had 27 points (seven turnovers, too) and the closest to him points wise was Rodney Stuckey with 10 on three-of-13 shooting.I think it is clear that you are the worst team in the history of the NBA when you lose to the Warriors, who had three D-Leaugers on the roster to begin the game, in a game that they lose Monta Ellis in.

The possible all-star Ellis left after 25 minutes of play with an ankle injury. Making up for his offensive contributions was rookie Stephen Curry, who had a career high 32 points with seven assists and four steals in 48 minutes of play.Dwight Howard dominated the Kings just like he did in this match-up last game, scoring 19 points with 15 boards. Kevin Martin was terrible, shooting one-for-seven for just five points in 41 minutes. I say trade him.With a new starting line-up, the Sixers put together a very good team effort to down Dallas. Thaddeus Young, who comes off the bench with Lou Williams in this new rotation, had 22 off the bench.

Dirk Nowitzki was held to 11 points on 13 shots.Dwyane Wade had 32 points and 10 assists on a great night for him shooting the ball. He was on fire from the start and it resulted in a pretty easy win.

Michael Beasley had 15 points on 15 shots.Houston’s point guard duo of Kyle Lowry and Aaron Brooks combined for 46 points (23 apiece), 16 assists, eight rebounds and five steals. When Lowry is on like this, they have a great slasher that can get to the basket. I think Memphis regrets trading him.

Tim Duncan scored his 20,000th point, leaving him 5,000 behind the best player in the game, Kobe, even though he is older. College isn’t worth it, folks.Derrick Rose looked like the best point guard in the NBA tonight. How much does Steve Nash’s no defense have to do with this?

Absolutely nothing.

It doesn’t matter who was on Rose. He was either going to take you to the rack with a blow by or hit one of his numerous mid-range jumpers on the night.

We all remember that Rose spent a lot of the summer trying to fix his shot and it wasn’t until tonight when the results showed in monumental fashion. Rose started off the game with an 18 point first half on nine-of-11 shooting. He finished with 32 on 15-of-21 shooting with five assists, three rebounds and three steals.

Rose was nine-out-12 from mid-range and hit his only three of the game as the third quarter ended. He didn’t even try to blow-by his defender that many times, he simply pulled up in transition or off a broken play and nailed a pretty mid-range game. Derrick also pulled of that pretty poster pictured above.

Derrick got some help from his partner-in-crime Luo Deng, who has been surprisingly good this season. Deng hit 10-of-17 shots for 23 points and added six rebounds and three assits.

Joakim Noah had a pretty effective scoring game, getting 19 points and eight boards with nine of ten free throws going down. His effort was matched by Robin Lopez at parts during this game but he outdid him on the offensive end. Even John Salmons came off the bench and knocked down some big shots.

Steve Nash was terrible. He’s not an all-star and it’s a travesty that he is starting over Chris Paul. He was four-of-12 from the field with eight points, seven assists and five turnovers. He should pull out of the game to honor those who really deserve it.

Line Break

Author: (2422 Articles)

Mark is an 18-year old sports fanatic that founded this website back in October of 2008. He is the lead contributor for this site and a credentialed member of the media for several sports leagues and organizations. Mark's main focus is the NBA, though he also covers MLB, NFL, and International events like the Olympics and the World Baseball Classic. Follow Mark on Twitter: @Mark_Travis

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