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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

A 73-Point Loser Is Not ‘Necessarily’ Who the Thunder Are

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Bookmakers took a look at the Grizzlies-Thunder game in Memphis on Thursday night, weighed all the factors, and decided that the Grizzlies should be 9-point favorites.

Yeah, I think they covered.

The Grizzlies led by 15 after a quarter, 36 at the half, and 51 after three quarters on their way to a 152-79 win. The 73-point margin of victory was the largest in N.B.A. history.

Even an arithmophobe could find some amazing numbers in the box score.

The Thunder, for instance, were outscored by 56 points when Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (2 points on 0-7 shooting) was on the floor. Oklahoma City was outrebounded, 53-26, and had two steals against 19 turnovers.

On the plus side, they made 82 percent of their free throws, better than the Grizzlies’ 72 percent. Good thing too, or it might have really turned into a blowout.

The happier-looking Grizzlies numbers included 27 points on 9 of 11 shooting for Jaren Jackson Jr. and nine assists in 21 minutes for Tyus Jones. Santi Aldama put up a plus-52 despite coming off the bench.

“Tonight’s not necessarily who we are,” Thunder Coach Mark Daigneault said. Not necessarily, he said. Yikes.

He went on the philosophize a bit. “When you compete, you have exposure to the highs and lows of competition. And competition comes with great joy. It also comes with grief and frustration and anger.”

Tre Mann had 12 points in 27 minutes for the Thunder. Oklahoma City was outscored by 47 points when he was on the floor. Credit…Brandon Dill/Associated Press

In the Thunder’s favor, they were missing their leading scorer, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who entered the concussion protocol on Thursday. Still, the Grizzlies were without their own star, Ja Morant, who has a knee injury.

The Thunder have now lost eight straight and sit 6-16 in what was always expected to be another rebuilding year (last season they were 22-50). They still have a better record than the Pelicans, Rockets, Magic and Pistons (4-18!). But none of those teams, not even the Pistons, has lost by 73.

The Thunder now have three nights off before a game on Monday at … the Pistons. Get your tickets now.

The previous record blowout was set by the 1991-92 Cavaliers, who beat the Heat, an eventual playoff team, by 68, 148-80. “I don’t know what we played, but it wasn’t basketball,” Glen Rice of the Heat said afterward.

That eclipsed an earlier record margin of 63, which was set in 1972 by the eventual champion Lakers, who beat the Warriors behind 30 points from Gail Goodrich.

Going back still further, on Christmas Day in 1960, the Syracuse Nats of Dolph Schayes and Hal Greer beat the Knicks, 162-100.

Ty Jerome, a former Virginia player who started Thursday’s game for Oklahoma City, tried to find a silver lining on Thursday night. “My sophomore year in college, we were the first seed to ever lose to a 16 seed,” he told The Oklahoman after the game. “Like, that’s way more embarrassing than this N.B.A. game.”

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