The Grizzlies started hot, taking a 15-point lead after one quarter, and never let up. They outscored Oklahoma City by at least 15 in all four periods, maxing out at a 22-point margin in the final quarter as they completed the largest win in NBA history: 152-79, a whopping 73-point differential.
Entering Thursday's game, Memphis had actually been outscored by 92 points over the course of the season despite compiling an above-.500 record (11-10). A huge margin erased much of that deficit, taking the Grizzlies' season-long point differential from -4.4 per game to -0.8. The Thunder tumbled the opposite direction; their -10.1 differential is now the league's worst.
Certainly, it won't always be this bad for Oklahoma City, playing without leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (in concussion protocol) as well as their leader in both rebounds and assists, rookie Josh Giddey (non-COVID illness) and veterans Derrick Favors (illness) and Kenrich Williams (ankle sprain).
It also won't always be so good for Memphis, which previously was on the wrong end of the league's worst loss this season by 43 points at Minnesota last month. Still, let's see what we can take from a record-setting game.
No rubber-band effect
Typically, we don't see outcomes like Thursday's in large part because of a factor known as the "rubber-band effect,"coined by Matthew Goldman and Justin Rao. In his new book "The Midrange Theory," author Seth Partnow builds on research from Nathan Walker of Stats Perform to discuss the effect where a trailing team tends to play better during regular-season games. (Partnow noted this effect is muted in playoff games when teams with leads have less incentive to take their foot off the gas and trailing teams may be quicker to rest their starters.)