(The Sports Xchange) - Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan was looking beyond the box score after the Thunder overpowered the Memphis Grizzlies 125-88 on Tuesday at FedExForum.
Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 32 points, but it was guard Russell Westbrook’s overall performance — 13 points, 16 assists — that impressed the first-year NBA coach.
Westbrook played an efficient 25 minutes, making five of seven shots, grabbing five rebounds and committing only three turnovers.
“I can’t say enough about what Russell did,” Donovan said.
“In my opinion, he’s one of the rare guys in the league that can dominate a game without scoring.
“What he did tonight — setting up his team mates, the 16 assists and the unselfishness — started with him and Kevin.”
Westbrook had 12 of his assists by halftime, when the Thunder had surged ahead 59-47, and he added several more in the opening minutes of the third quarter when Oklahoma City pulled away. The 16 assists tied a season high.
“I try to set the table for guys and try to find ways to get everybody going, especially on the road,” Westbrook said. “We just kept the pace hot.
“They kind of like to rough you up a little bit. I thought we did a good job of setting the tone on both ends of the floor.”
Serge Ibaka added 17 points for the Thunder, who shot 56 percent and had 31 assists on the 47 field goals. They were 13 of 26 from three-point range.
The Thunder, who needed a late jumper by Durant to beat the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, spent the majority of the game against the Grizzlies with a double-digit lead.
Oklahoma City opened the third quarter with a 20-6 run to build a 79-53 advantage. The visitors led by as many as 37 in the quarter, during which they shot 63 percent.
Their lead reached 40 in the fourth quarter. The 125 points were the most allowed by Memphis this season.
“Coach (Dave Joerger) hit it on the nail,” said Grizzlies reserve guard Courtney Lee. “He said they threw a punch at us and we didn’t punch back. They went on their run and we didn’t respond.”
Joerger said the Grizzlies hurt their comeback chances behind a mistake-filled third quarter, one in which they were outscored 39-16 and committed 10 turnovers.
“We turned the ball over way too much in the third quarter,” Joerger said. “Just simple passing, dribbling and catching issues.
“And it was a tough night. Some guys had some tough nights.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford