Originally posted on Fox Sports Tennessee  |  Last updated 12/27/11
By MIKE LIPKASTATS Editor After opening with a lackluster performance against the team they stunned in the playoffs last season, the Memphis Grizzlies now must try to improve versus the club they couldn't overcome. The Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder square off Wednesday night in Memphis for the first time since their seven-game series last spring as Kevin Durant tries to guide his team to a 3-0 start. Following a shocking first-round upset of top-seeded San Antonio in April, the Grizzlies nearly made it all the way to the Western Conference finals. Durant, however, had 39 points as the Thunder finally eliminated Memphis with a 105-90 Game 7 win. The series featured a three-overtime thriller in Game 4 that Oklahoma City won 133-123, avoiding a 3-1 deficit. "Durant is a special player, one of the best players in the NBA," Memphis' Zach Randolph said after the series. "The kid is a gym rat, he works hard. He's one of my favorite players. You've got to give him kudos and give him respect." Randolph also earned plenty of praise with an outstanding 2010-11 season, averaging 20.1 points and a career-best 12.2 rebounds, then posting eight double-doubles in 13 playoff games. But he had just 10 points and six boards as the Grizzlies hardly looked like the same upstart team in losing Monday's opener 95-82 to the Spurs. "We didn't play very well. We did turn the ball over a lot (24 times), but we didn't guard," coach Lionel Hollins said. "We didn't guard them in the pick and roll. We gave up transition points. It was not a very well-played game by us at all." The Thunder, meanwhile, have looked the part of West favorite right out of the gate, beating Orlando 97-89 on Sunday before opening their road slate with Monday's 104-100 victory over Minnesota. Durant, trying to lead the franchise to its first 3-0 start since Seattle did it in 2003-04, already has a pair of 30-point games after scoring 33 against the Timberwolves. "We're letting the game come to us," he said. "If we continue to do that we'll be fine." The two-time reigning NBA scoring champion is getting plenty of help from his teammates. Russell Westbrook had 28 points, six assists and six rebounds versus Minnesota, and James Harden has chipped in a combined 35 points off the bench in the two games. "We have a lot of guys that can get a basket: Russell, of course, James is really stepping it up scoring the ball," Durant said. "I think we feed off each other really well; it's not like guys are being selfish playing one-on-one basketball." Memphis won't be able to keep up with the Thunder if it plays like it did Monday. The Grizzlies had a one-point lead at the half but were outscored 29-14 in the third quarter and couldn't recover. Perhaps the lone bright spot was Rudy Gay, who had 19 points and 10 rebounds in his first game since Feb. 15 after recovering from a shoulder injury. "It's kind of bittersweet we lost, but it's good that I'm healthy and I can get out there and play," said Gay, who has averaged 24.3 points in his last four games against Oklahoma City. The Thunder have lost five of their last six at Memphis, with the three-OT game the lone victory.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Patrick Beverley fined $25K for altercation with fan

Bill Parcells on Tony Romo: ‘I was glad he retired’

Report: Garoppolo remains 'long shot' to be traded

Report: Packers coaches upset with GM Ted Thompson

Rondo fined $25K for attempting to trip Crowder

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Logan Morrison curses out umpire CB Bucknor mid at-bat

Raptors jab Bucks on Twitter after Game 4 victory

Report: NBA GMs not hesitant to draft Lonzo Ball due to father LaVar

DeShone Kizer changes course, stands by Tom Brady-Cam Newton quote

Nick Saban doesn't offer much praise of team for 'adequate' spring game

Dennis Schroder admits Mike Budenholzer wants him to avoid trash talk

The 'It's not good to play the King' quiz

Best of Yardbarker: David Fizdale and the Grizzlies won't go down quietly

Three Up, Three Down: Home run hitters are heating up

The 'Even the Browns can't mess this one up' quiz

25 times Mother Nature disrupted sports

In some ways, Dan Rooney was just another NFL owner

Box Score 4/20: When Westbrook isn't enough

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The '♫Happy Birthday Simpsons. Simpsons, it's your birthday♫' quiz

White House championship visits over the years

Biggest needs in the draft for every NFL team

The 'Baseball has been very, very good to its players' quiz

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'It's not good to play the King' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: Home run hitters are heating up

The 'Even the Browns can't mess this one up' quiz

In some ways, Dan Rooney was just another NFL owner

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The '♫Happy Birthday Simpsons. Simpsons, it's your birthday♫' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: David Fizdale calls B.S.

Kris Bryant can become the next Derek Jeter — and more

The 'Baseball has been very, very good to its players' quiz

NHL youth movement: How the 2016-17 rookie class fared

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker