A day after controversially trading away top-scorer Rudy Gay, the Memphis Grizzlies were humbled 106-89 at Oklahoma City on Thursday as the Thunder stayed firmly in the hunt to be best in the west.
In a battle of NBA title contenders from the Western Conference, the second-best Thunder improved to 35-11 with the rout, while questions about whether the fourth-placed Grizzlies can contend without Gay will remain as they fell to 29-16.
Gay was shipped to Toronto as part of a multi-player and team trade on Wednesday to save Memphis money and avoid the payment of luxury taxes, but it could dampen the team’s playoff hopes.
Their cause was further undermined as they were also without trade acquisitions Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye and Ed Davis, who are yet to arrive and pass physicals.
Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 27 points, while an emotional Russell Westbrook contributed 21 despite spending time in the locker-room cooling off after a disagreement with teammate Thabo Sefolosha.
In Thursday’s other NBA game David Lee finished an assist short of a triple-double and Klay Thompson scored 27 points as the Golden State Warriors beat the Dallas Mavericks 100-97.
Lee had 15 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists, while Jarrett Jack scored 13 points, including two free throws with 2 seconds left to help the Warriors win their third straight. Harrison Barnes also had 15 points.