Tagged in: thunder

Grizzlies throttle Thunder by NBA-record 73-point margin

The game was long decided and the Memphis starters were relegated to cheerleaders on the bench when John Konchar got a steal and headed to the basket.

His right-handed dunk gave the Grizzlies a 145-67 lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder with 3:02 left and a new franchise record for points in a match.

That 78-point advantage was Memphis’ biggest lead on Thursday night, but by the time it was over the Grizzlies were still 73 points ahead. Their 152-79 victory over the Thunder shattered the NBA record for the largest margin of victory.

“At that moment, I didn’t know it was a franchise record,” Konchar said. “I just kind of saw the lane, and I dunked it. But it’s awesome.”

The 73-point margin easily topped the previous mark, which was Cleveland’s 68-point win over Miami. The Cavaliers topped the Heat 148-80 on Dec. 17, 1991.

“Tonight is not necessarily who we are,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “I think we’ve definitely shown that from a competitive standpoint. This isn’t indicative of who our team is.”

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Memphis used 12 players and nine of them reached double figures in scoring, with Jaren Jackson Jr.’s 27 points leading the way for the Grizzlies. Memphis was without its best player, injured guard Ja Morant.

It was 72-36 at halftime and the Grizzlies just kept adding to the lead.

“I think there was some slippage defensively and I think before you know it, teams are in a rhythm and the game is out of hand,” Oklahoma City’s Mike Muscala said. “We didn’t fight, obviously. You’d rather go out fighting. You would rather go out putting your best foot forward and playing together.”

The Thunder flirted with being on the wrong end of the record last season, trailing Indiana by 67 points on May 1 before rallying — such as it was — to lose by merely 57 points, 152-95.

This was worse. Historically worse.

The Grizzlies set a franchise record for shooting, making 62.5% of their shots. De’Anthony Melton scored 19 points, Santi Aldama scored 18 and John Konchar scored 17 for the Grizzlies, and none of those three players even started.

“Man, it feels great. It feels great to be in the history books, especially in front of our home crowd,” Melton stated. “And we did it one through 15. Everybody contributed, everybody played hard and we all got to get in the game. So, it’s always a blessing.

“We knew with (Morant) going down what we had to do,” Melton said. “We had to step up.”

No Memphis starter played more than 21 minutes. Lu Dort led the Thunder with 15 points, and Oklahoma City shot only 33%.

It was 12-8 after five minutes. From there, there was no stopping Memphis. The Grizzlies outscored the Thunder by 15 points in each of the four quarters.

It was the third consecutive game the Grizzlies have led from start to finish.

The Thunder lost their eighth straight as they continued to play without a number of players, including leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who entered concussion protocol earlier Thursday. Gilgeous-Alexander scored 39 points against the Rockets on Wednesday night but suffered a blow to the head late in the match.

Point guard Josh Giddey, who averages 10.4 points and 5.5 assists, sat out with a non-COVID-19 illness, and the remaining players couldn’t fill the void in Oklahoma City’s offense.

The Thunder had been competitive in their seven straight losses before Thursday night. Their largest margin of defeat was 13 points.

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LeBron James to miss ‘at least one week’ because of abdominal strain

Lakers superstar LeBron James is expected to miss “at least one week” because of an abdominal strain, a source told ESPN on Thursday.

James was ruled out for Thursday’s match versus the Oklahoma City Thunder, and another source familiar with the injury told ESPN that the Lakers’ medical staff “wants to take their time” with James’ recovery.

“Anytime LeBron’s out and he’s going to miss some time there’s obviously concern,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said before Thursday’s game.

“Hopefully this is something that’s minimal, and hopefully he’ll be back soon.” James, a 19-year veteran who turns 37 next month, has already missed two of the Lakers’ first eight games through their 5-3 start to the season because of a sore right ankle.

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James aggravated his ab injury, which the team is calling a rectus abdominis strain, in Tuesday’s 119-117 victory over the Houston Rockets, sources told ESPN.

In the fourth quarter of the Rockets’ win, James started to feel the injury but was unaware of what caused it.

“When he came over to the bench he just said he felt something pulling, was able to finish the game, but then obviously discovered there was something there after the game,” Vogel said.

Vogel stated the injury is unrelated to the groin tear that caused James to miss 27 games during the 2018-19 season.

Vogel added that James’ early-season injuries have not changed the team’s approach to protecting him for the long haul.

“Not any different than in years past,” Vogel said. “We want to be responsible with his minutes … get to the finish line as healthy as possible but also as in rhythm as possible. And that’s a balance that we strike throughout the year.”

James is averaging 24.8 points on 46.7% shooting — his lowest percentage since his rookie year — along with 7 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game.

Los Angeles travels to Portland to play the Trail Blazers on Saturday, followed by home games versus the Charlotte Hornets on Monday, Miami Heat on Wednesday and Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

L.A. will start DeAndre Jordan, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Avery Bradley and Kent Bazemore against the Thunder. “Obviously you can’t replace what LeBron does,” Vogel said, “but everybody else has to do what they do better and you have to start that way.”

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Los Angeles Lakers intend to acquire Dennis Schroder from Oklahoma City Thunder

Ahead of the lifting of the transaction window on Monday afternoon, the Los Angeles Lakers intend to obtain Oklahoma City guard Dennis Schroder, sources told ESPN.

The deal can be formally agreed to in principle Monday and finalized after the NBA draft on Wednesday night.

As part of the trade, the Lakers are preparing to send the player they select with the 28th overall pick and guard Danny Green to the Thunder, sources said.

Los Angeles cannot outright send the draft pick to Oklahoma City because there is a rule that restricts teams from trading first-round picks in consecutive years. Los Angeles sent the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 draft to the New Orleans Pelicans as part of the Anthony Davis trade.

The Thunder already own the 25th pick in Wednesday’s draft.

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Schroder, 27, has been one of the most sought-after guards in the trade market, and he fortifies a Lakers backcourt that potentially could lose veteran guards Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley in free agency.

Schroder has one year and $15.5 million left on his contract and would be acquired with the intention of eventually signing him to a new contract to stay with the defending NBA champions, sources said.

Oklahoma City got Schroder in 2018 from the Hawks in exchange for Carmelo Anthony and a lottery-protected 2022 first-round pick. If the pick doesn’t convey, it turns into two second-rounders, which is an increasingly likely scenario given the Thunder’s rebuilding plan beginning in action.

Schroder finished runner-up for Sixth Man of the Year last campaign, becoming a key component to one of the best combinations in the NBA, a three-point-guard lineup alongside Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Though he excelled in his role, averaging 18.9 points and 4.0 assists, Schroder was never shy about his wish to return to the starting lineup and the Lakers are poised to give him that chance.

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Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni: Russell Westbrook’s quad healing, but still no timetable for return

Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni still uncertain of when or if All-Star guard Russell Westbrook will be available during the team’s first-round series versus the Oklahoma City Thunder.

D’Antoni said before Tuesday’s 123-108 Game 1 victory that Westbrook’s strained right quadriceps is healing, but the team does not have a specific timetable for his return.
“Can’t rule anything out, but don’t rule anything in,” D’Antoni said.

“He’s getting a lot better,” D’Antoni said. “The good news: it’s healing. We’ll just have to wait and see. I really don’t know at this point. Can’t rule anything out, but don’t rule anything in.” Westbrook was programmed to undergo an MRI on Tuesday, and the results were not immediately revealed.

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Westbrook, who was a late arrival to the NBA’s Walt Disney World Resort campus because he tested positive for COVID-19, felt soreness in his right quadriceps after the Rockets’ loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Aug. 4.

He sat out the next two games because of a right quad contusion, according to the team.

Russ’s absence will be a tough one for the Rockets to cope with. His ability to use dribble penetration and generate open 3-pointers for others on the team is unparalleled across the NBA. The Rockets rely on heavy doses of 3-point shooting.

Westbrook played 28 minutes in Houston’s Aug. 11 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, recording 20 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists. The Rockets revealed the next day that an MRI had revealed that Westbrook had a strained muscle in his quad.

A nine-time All-Star acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Thunder last summer, Westbrook has averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game in his first season with the Rockets.

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