- The Memphis Grizzlies beat the Oklahoma City Thunder at home on Thursday night 152-79.
- The 73 point margin of victory is the largest in NBA history, easily topping the previous record of 68.
- Memphis is 12-10 on the season while Oklahoma City dropped to 6-16.
The Memphis Grizzlies have been trying to keep their head over the .500 mark all year but on Thursday night they looked like world beaters. At the very least, they looked like a team that could dominate a ‘bottom feeder’ and they did a number on the 6-16 Oklahoma City Thunder at the Fed Ex Forum. Memphis beat Oklahoma City by a final score of 152-79–a margin of 73 points. That set a new record of the largest margin of victory in NBA history. As you’d imagine, Memphis easily covered as a -11 point home favorite and the final score sailed ‘Over’ the posted total of 210.5.
Making the margin of victory all the more shocking–the Grizzlies pulled off the massive rout without star point guard Ja Morant. Morant injured his knee in last Friday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks. Initially, there were fears of severe injury but a MRI revealed no structural damage. The official diagnosis is a sprained knee and Morant is expected to miss ‘a couple of weeks’ though there is no official timetable for his return. Other reports suggest that Morant could miss more time as the Grizzlies have little reason to rush the 22 year old budding superstar back into the lineup. Morant is the team’s leading scorer averaging 24.1 PPG this year. Before Thursday’s game, head coach Taylor Jenkins made it sound like the plan is to bring him along slowly:
“He’s been responding really well to the treatments, the lift sessions that he’s had and we’re sprinkling in just small doses of on-court work just to make sure his knee’s moving and seeing how he’s responding day to day.”
Tonight, Jaren Jackson Jr. carried the Grizzlies with 27 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks and an assist in 20 minutes. He nailed 6 of 7 from three point range and did all of his damage in just 20 minutes. The Grizzlies also broke a ton of franchise records–they set records for points scored in a game, bench points in a game (93) and field goal percentage (62.5%). Memphis’ previous largest margin of victory was a 49 point win last year in Houston. When the Grizzlies opened up a 52 point lead in the third quarter it became the largest in-game lead in franchise history. They didn’t stop there–Memphis led by as many as 78 points in the second half. The 78 point lead was the largest in any game since at least 1996-97.
As for Oklahoma City, the box score looks as nasty as the final score would suggest. On the night, the Thunder shot 32.9% from the field and committed 19 turnovers. Tre Mann was in the starting lineup due to injuries to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey. He shot 5 of 11 from the field which was the *best* shooting performance of the OKC starting lineup. The worst? Center Jeremiah Robinson-Earl who went 0 for 7 on the night. In the 24 minutes that Robinson-Earl was in the game, Memphis outscored the Thunder by 56 points. That’s one point shy of the all time worst single game plus/minus.
More box score insanity via Yahoo Sports:
Meanwhile, Memphis shot a franchise-record 62.5 percent from the field and had nine different players score in double figures. Again, if every player on the Grizzlies stopped scoring after reaching 10 points, they still would have won. If their starters went scoreless, they still would have won thanks to 93 bench points.
With Morant out, Jaren Jackson Jr. led all scorers with 27 points. Rookie big man Santi Aldama, who entered the game averaging 8.4 minutes and 3.0 points, finished as a +52 after posting 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Memphis’s De’Anthony Melton scored 19 points and offered these postgame comments:
“Man, it feels great. It feels great to be in the history books, especially in front of our home crowd. 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. We had to step up.”
Memphis definitely got everyone involved–none of the starters played more than 21 minutes and everyone on the roster played at least 14 minutes. Nine of the 12 players scored in double figures.
Oklahoma City head coach Mark Daigneault had the dubious responsibility of explaining his team’s implosion to the media:
“Tonight is not necessarily who we are. I think we’ve definitely shown that from a competitive standpoint. This isn’t indicative of who our team is.”
“When you compete, you have exposure to the highs and lows of competition. And competition comes with great joy, and it also comes with grief and frustration and anger. And when you step in that ring, that’s what you expose yourself to is all of those things.”
“It’s why the joy feels so good, because when you get punched and you taste your own blood, it doesn’t feel right.”
Daigneault isn’t just making excuses–the Thunder have been fairly competitive this season. They’re now mired in an 8 game losing streak but during that run the largest margin of victory before tonight was 13 points. During the previous seven losses OKC went 5-2 against the spread. Heading into the game tonight OKC was 13-8 ATS overall, 6-4 ATS on the road and 12-7 ATS as an underdog. The Thunder were on a run of 11-4 against the spread prior to tonight’s meltdown. With the win/cover, Memphis improves to 5-2 SU/6-1 ATS in their last seven games against Oklahoma City.