Memphis has Marc of excellence
The Memphis Grizzlies were already rolling on Thursday night when Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook took his leave — ejected after a pair of technical fouls. Then Marc Gasol took over. The 7-foot-1 center had 25 points, eight rebounds, five blocks and two assists to pace the Grizzlies to a 114-80 romp over the Thunder.
Zach Randolph added 21 as Memphis padded its fourthquarter cushion to 37 points before coasting to the finish.
Troy Daniels helped the lead swell in the fourth, shooting 6 of 8 from outside the arc in the final period while scoring all 22 of his points.
“I just was happy with the effort,” Memphis coach David Fizdale said. “That’s all I cared about — seeing us play harder. Sprinting back on defense, diving on the floor for loose balls.”
Memphis weathered a bit of an early second-half rally and still led 61-45 when Westbrook was whistled for two technicals with 6:41 left in the third.
“Honestly, it’s crazy, man, especially to be ejected when I didn’t do anything,” Westbrook said. “It was just crazy, especially for me because I don’t feel I get the benefit of the doubt most of the time from the refs.”
Westbrook, the NBA’s leading scorer at 31.7 points per game, left with 21 points, five rebounds and no assists. Enes Kanter scored 19 as Oklahoma City set a season low for points.
“I thought (the Grizzlies) did a terrific job defensively,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said.
“They’ve been good defensively all year long. I think there are some things that we certainly could have done a whole lot better.”
The loss snapped Oklahoma City’s four-game winning streak, while Memphis ended a two-game skid.
Big toe, no-go
Memphis point guard Mike Conley missed his second game with a bum left big toe. Fizdale said it was caused by “a broken toenail type of thing,” adding: “When those 7-footers step on your toes, it’s not pleasant.”
Westbrook’s ejection assured Memphis would maintain its streak of not allowing a triple-double in 176 games — the longest current run in the league.
The Grizzlies haven’t allowed a triple-double since Dec 13, 2014, when Michael Carter-Williams was 16-11-11 for the Philadelphia 76ers.
“I get so many techs just for talking,” said Westbrook.
“I can’t even say anything when I’m getting hammered every time I go to the damn basket. Not tonight, but every night.
“I just don’t get reffed the same way as other people, and I don’t appreciate it.”
Jason Phillips, the officiating crew chief, speaking to a pool reporter, said Westbrook’s beef was sparked by a shot clock reset.
Phillips used the term “adamant” several times in describing the Thunder guard’s complaint.
Officials advised Westbrook they heard his point and it was time to move on. But the player continued to gripe, drawing the first technical.
The complaint continued “and then the player even proceeded to use some profanity,” Phillips said, prompting the ejection.
Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol shoots over Oklahoma City Thunder counterpart Joffrey Lauvergne in the second half of Thursday’s NBA clash in Memphis, Tennessee.