- It will be a much different Memphis Grizzlies squad playing the Thunder tonight from the one that beat OKC 107-97 back in November. Rudy Gay had 28 points that night and his 17.2 ppg average this season led the team but he’s been traded away to Toronto. The deal caught many players off guard, “it surprised a lot of us, we knew the rumors but it’s tough to lose guys you consider family,” point guard Mike Conley said before the game. Conley has been out with a sprained ankle but he’ll be back in the lineup tonight. Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins called the trade, “the business of basketball.” When asked if the trade makes the Griz a weaker team Hollins said simply, “time will tell.”
- Last week the Grizzlies sent Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby to Cleveland for John Leuer. The players Memphis picked up in yesterday’s three team deal with Toronto and Detroit, Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye and Ed Davis will not be in uniform tonight and probably won’t play until next week. Quincy Pondexter is out with a sprained knee so the Griz will only suit up nine players.
- Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant says his team will still have plenty to deal with against the Grizzlies, “Rudy Gay’s a great player, someone that’s tough to deal with on a night-to-night basis but they still have Zach (Randolph), Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Tony Allen so they still got a lot of their guys that we went to Game Seven with in the playoffs a couple years ago.”
- Thunder players are back inside Chesapeake Energy Arena for the first time in more than two weeks. “I’m pretty excited to get back in front of our fans,” OKC forward Nick Collison said before the game. Collison was also happy for the scheduling break that gave the Thunder three days off after finishing up a six-game, 10-day road trip. “We were a little up and down on the trip but I can’t wait to get back out there tonight.”
- OKC hasn’t played since the Sunday loss to the Lakers so this will be a “bounce-back” game. Oklahoma City is 9-1 in those games this season and 44-10 over the last three seasons.
– Randy Renner