The Memphis Grizzlies have been the best NBA team since Marc Gasol returned from his injury last season. He didn’t do a lot in the 91-89 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, who just might be the worst team in the NBA right now since there’s no Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to rely on.
Mike Conley scored 20 points, Courtney Lee added 17 and Zach Randolph finished 16. It didn’t come easy for the Grizzlies, taking the lead with 38 seconds in the game as Mike Conley hit a 3-pointer on a catch and shoot to take a 90-89 lead. The Grizzlies shot 8-of-15 from the field on catch and shoot plays.
The Thunder, despite their 1-5 record, are close in each game. Reggie Jackson scored 22 points, 12 of them in the fourth quarter as the Thunder crept back from a big deficit. But If Scott Brooks has been criticized for the way he’s been coaching offense over the years, things look even worse when there’s not too much talent running that individual, pop and screen scheme that’s mostly about talented play makers taking advantage of their superiority.
Against the Grizzlies’ defense, the Thunder’s attempts to run the ball didn’t work. They did shoot 46.8% from the field but also turned the ball over 17 times. The grizzlies limited them to only four transition points after giving up 14.8 points per game that way. The Thunder were averaging 11.2 transition points through the first five games.
When Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook get back, the Thunder might too far behind to rescure. Just like Marc Gasol’s injury last season for the Grizzlies, who have been the best team in the NBA since his return (38-13), maybe they’ll be good enough to make the playoffs. But they’ll possibly be too far behind to maybe even gain home court advantage.
And the Grizzlies? They’re not alone when it comes to still not losing. However, they seem to be playing that kind of basketball that means sustainable success. Not one player to rely on, not some individual offensive system that relies on the scoring ability and form on seperate nights. It always feels like the Grizzlies are running out of time to get something out of this roster, but it turns out this squad was built to succeed for more than a year or two.