Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Tip-off: Thursday, January 31, 2013 – 8:00 PM ET
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
The Memphis Grizzlies have had to endure to changes in their rotation lately and now will have to endure some more. The team will play their first game without leading scorer Rudy Gay and potentially with some new players tonight when they visit the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Under new owner Robert Pera, YouWager has learned that the Grizz have tried to cut salary and avoid getting hit with luxury taxes for the two next two NBA seasons. That process started when the team sent Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby to play with the Cleveland Cavaliers for Jon Leuer on Jan. 22.
While long rumored that they were excited to trade Gay, it appeared as though Memphis might wait as they weren’t going to have to pay $4 million in luxury taxes this season. However, they decided to move forward with sending center Hamed Haddadi to play with the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday for Jose Calderon, Ed Davis and a second-round draft pick in 2013.
Memphis (29-15) has won five of seven and are 3-1 since trading Speights. Gay scored 26 points and made the go-ahead shot with 13.3 seconds left in a 103-100 victory versus the Philadelphia 76ers earlier this week.
Marc Gasol had a season-high 27 points and in addition Jerryd Bayless had what many NBA fans consider his best scoring performance of 2012-13 with 21 points.
The Grizzlies will get some assistance as they adjusts with five of its next seven at home and four of those games against sub-.500 teams. However, Memphis must first face Oklahoma City (34-11), who will likely be excited to bounce back from a dull showing on their season-high road trip.
The Thunder alternated victories and defeats in each of its six road games and fell 105-96 to the Los Angeles Lakers in Sunday’s finale.
Kevin Durant scored 35 points in that loss, giving him an average of 35.5 over his last six games, but only one other player had more than 10. Westbrook finished with 17 points and 13 assists but missed 16 of 22 shots.
Oklahoma City is 19-3 at home and have won three straight there, but one of their defeats was a 107-97 loss versus the Grizzlies on Nov. 14. Gay had 28 points and Zach Randolph added 20 as Memphis won for the third time in the past four regular-season visits to Oklahoma City.
Durant is averaging 30.2 points in his last 15 regular-season games versus the Grizzlies and 32.6 in his last seven at home.