OKLAHOMA CITY — Riding a three-game losing streak, the questions surrounding Oklahoma City began to all sound the same. “What is wrong with the Thunder?”
Russell Westbrook knew there was only one way to get the questions and doubt to cease and that was to come up with a win Friday when the Thunder hosted their nemesis, the Memphis Grizzlies. Playing without two starters for most of the night, they pulled out a 113-107 victory at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“We won,” Westbrook said. “That’s what I’m going to take from it. We just lost three in a row. We just won so that’s what I’m going to take from it. Right about now, this time of the year, it’s about to be March. Once March hits, all you want to do is win games and get your mind right for the playoffs.”
However, the win didn’t come easily. The Grizzlies had been playing solid ball themselves, winning five of the past six games entering the night. Since they last met the Thunder Jan. 14, they had only allowed two teams to score more than 100 points.
After a slow start, Kevin Durant scored 17 points in the third quarter to help the Thunder go up 87-71 heading into the fourth quarter.
However, Mike Miller came off the bench for the Grizzlies (32-25) and helped cut the lead to six points with 4:22 left in the game. He was not only knocking down 3-pointers but was taking his defenders off the dribble.
With Thabo Sefolosha straining his left calf in the first half, the Thunder (44-15) brought in Perry Jones III to match up with Miller.
The Grizzlies cut it to four with 3:33 left. Miller had a chance to trim the deficit to two, but he missed a tip-in layup. Durant made them pay on the other end with a step-back jumper.