Five takeaways from the Thunder's 126-122 win against the Grizzlies
The Thunder rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Grizzlies 126-122 at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday.
OKC pulled off its second over-20-point comeback in as many games. Here are five takeaways from the game:
Musclala plays power forward
Mike Musala first brought the towels left in front of the scorers table back to the bench. Then, he headed back up the sideline to check into the game with two minutes left in the third quarter.
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Muscala went in as a power forward, a role Thunder coach Billy Donovan has put him in more frequently since the Thunder played at Utah on Saturday. Muscala, who has played most of his minutes this season at center, filled in when Danilo Gallinari missed one game with an ankle sprain.
With Musclala at power forward, rookie Darius Bazley slid over to small forward. The Thunder closed the second quarter with that lineup.
Noel, Alley-oop king
Thunder center Nerlens Noel rolled toward the basket as Dennis Schroder dribbled to the free throw line. Schroder tossed up a lob, and Noel leaped. He caught the pass just above the rim and slammed it down with two hands.
The Grizzlies called a timeout as the alley-oop cut their lead to 16-15 over the Thunder. They’d see that play a lot more.
Noel finished one more lob from Schroder and two more from Chris Paul in the first half alone.
Third quarter woes continue
The Thunder trailed the Grizzlies by just nine points at halftime, but in the third quarter OKC got down by as many as 24 points. The Thunder entered the game as the worst third-quarter team in the NBA. Opponents outscore the Thunder by an average of 3.7 points per game.
The Thunder salvaged the third quarter with an unlikely three-for-one at the end of the period.
Just before Shai Gilgeous-Alexander went to the free throw line with 36 seconds left in the quarter, OKC was in a two-for-one situation – by managing the clock, the Thunder could fit in two possessions before the end of the quarter and allow the Grizzlies just one. OKC trailed 100-86.
The Thunder managed to squeeze in three possessions.
Gilgeous-Alexander made both free throws. Then the Grizzlies missed at the other end. Thunder wing Abdel Nader drained a 3-pointer. Then before Memphis could head back the other way, Kyle Anderson lost the ball with one second left.
Gilgeous-Alexander picked up the ball, and Schroder yelled to shoot it. Gilgeous-Alexander tossed up a midrange floater, and it beat the buzzer. That shot cut the Grizzlies’ lead to 100-93.
Morant shines for Grizlies
In the first three quarters, Ja Morant showed why he’s the front runner in the Rookie of the Year race so far this season. The No. 2 overall pick scored 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting before the intermission.
But the Thunder held Morant scoreless in the second half. He missed a shot that would have timed the game with 17.5 seconds to go, as he cut to the lane and tossed up a prayer.