NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, February 28th (All times Eastern)
Memphis Grizzlies (32-24) at Oklahoma City Thunder (43-15), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oklahoma City Thunder haven't played this poorly at home in five years, and they'll try to snap out of it Friday night when they welcome the Memphis Grizzlies to Chesapeake Energy Arena.
On Wednesday, the Thunder fell at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers by 10. A loss by that margin at home for one of the NBA's elite to a lottery-bound team is one thing, but that was the third consecutive home setback for the Thunder.
It's the Thunder's first three-game home losing streak since a six-game slide from March 18-April 7, 2009, which happened to be their first season after relocating from Seattle.
"In an NBA season you're going to have some ups and downs," said Thunder head coach Scott Brooks. "You just got to stay with what we do and keep believing in each other. Our guys have always done that so I'm very confident. We have to get better defensively."
Kevin Durant flirted with a triple-double, scoring 28 points with 10 rebounds and nine assists for Oklahoma City, which will play game four of a six-game homestand on Friday.
Russell Westbrook finished with 24 points and nine assists, while Serge Ibaka added 16 points and 13 rebounds in the setback.
It was the first game for the Thunder since they learned center Kendrick Perkins will miss six weeks after undergoing surgery on his groin. Oklahoma City is 0-4 in games Perkins has missed this season.
Rookie Steven Adams started in his place and only managed four points and four rebounds.
The Thunder will try to rebound against the team that knocked them out of the postseason last year. OKC fell to the Grizz in five games, but Westbrook was on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Memphis has dealt with its share of injuries this season, but all parties all healthy as the Grizzlies make a postseason push. They currently trail the Phoenix Suns by a half-game for the eighth seed out West, which would probably get them a return date with the Thunder in the first round.
Memphis has won five of its last six, including its most recent outing, a 108-103 home win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
Marc Gasol registered 14 points, 12 rebounds and five assists to best big brother Pau's team. Courtney Lee had 18 points and Tony Allen scored 17 in a reserve role for Memphis, which raced to a 22-point lead midway through the third quarter before holding on in the waning minutes.
"I like the way we stuck together," Allen said of his team hanging on down the stretch. "We finished it out."
The Grizzlies got 14 points from James Johnson and 13 from Zach Randolph.
Memphis claimed guard Beno Udrih off waivers, although it's unknown if he will be ready to play on Friday.
The Thunder have taken two of three from the Grizzlies this season. The two squads have split the last six regular-season meetings in Oklahoma City.
02/28 10:32:29 ET