Three Takeaways from NBA Sunday: New starters, same problems in Memphis
It was a quiet Sunday in the NBA, just four games — all with the start times spread out for our friends in Europe. If you decided to spend your day watching the NFL wild car chase — or were just fighting off people attacking you with Snickers bars — here are three things you need to know from a Sunday around the NBA.
1) Grizzlies move Zach Randolph to the bench, still can’t find a win. The Memphis Grizzlies don’t look like a bad team when you see they are 13-12 on the season, but that record overinflates how bad this team has been. Memphis is bottom 10 in both offense and defense, and it has the point differential of an 8-17 team according to Basketball-Reference.com. They recently suffered 20+-point blowouts by the Thunder, Spurs, and Hornets. It’s clear Memphis is not the same team — Marc Gasol has looked a step slow all season, and everyone around him (save for Mario Chalmers after the trade) has seemed to regress. This team needed a change.
Sunday coach Dave Joerger tried to find that jolt by sending Zach Randolph and the struggling Tony Allen to the bench and starting Matt Barnes and Courtney Lee — going small around Marc Gasol. It looked like the lineup might work, Memphis led most of the way and shot 58 percent through three quarters — until an 11-0 run by the Heat to close out the game gave the W to Miami. Despite that result expect to see that starting lineup again — it was +2 for the night and had a net rating of +8.7, and that’s despite the group being out for most of that 11-0 run late. The group shot 40 percent from three, and while the offense wasn’t great it defended well. The lineup deserves more time to see if it can work.
As for Miami, Dwyane Wade helped steal you a win, just take it and run.
2) Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are magnificent, that is all Thunder fans need know. We’ve covered this before, but the OKC dynamic duo were at it again Sunday. In a game where the Thunder had to go to overtime to beat the Jazz 104-98, Oklahoma City was +17 when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook shared the floor. The duo combined for 56 points, which is 53.9 percent of all the points OKC scored. Just a reminder that having two guys playing well enough both should get in the MVP discussion can erase a lot of mistakes.
3) Westbrook with the inbounds play of the year. We’ve all seen the rare “off the back of the defender” inbounds pass resulting in a layup before, but never anything quite like this — Westbrook goes off the defender for the quick turnaround jumper and nails it.