The Norman Transcript

April 22, 2014

Memphis bears down on Oklahoma City

Despite late magic from Durant, Thunder can’t catch up to Grizzlies in Game 2

By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript

OKLAHOMA CITY — Memphis wanted to play its game. After allowing Oklahoma CIty to pour in 100 points in Game 1, they knew they had to take some steam out of the Thunder if they stood a chance of coming away with a win on the road.

For the Grizzlies that meant following the lead of reserve guard Tony Allen. Even though he scored only 8 points, he set the tone and attitude that allowed them to come away with the 111-105 overtime victory Monday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

"Just trying to just cause havoc the best way possible," Allen said. "It's kind of to my favor."

The best-of-seven series is tied at 1-1 heading to Memphis for Game 3 Thursday. But the win did not come easily for the visiting squad.

With 2:19 left in overtime, Zach Randolph scored to give the Grizzlies a 105-101 advantage. Kevin Durant responded with a 3-pointer to bring the Thunder to within one.

After the Grizzlies missed a shot, Durant drove to the rim on a fastbreak attempt, but could not convert after running into Courtney Lee. The Grizzlies came up with the loose ball.

Thabo Sefolosha then stole the ball from Grizzlies' Mike Conley.

After a timeout, Durant was fouled by center Marc Gasol. Durant hit only one of two from the free-throw line to tie game at 105-105 with 35 seconds left.

Oklahoma City didn't score again as the Grizzlies' defense stiffened. Randolph and Lee scored the last six points to close out the contest.

"It's tough to take that hit and go into overtime," Memphis coach David Joerger said. "That was a big moment. In that huddle t was a big moment for us because we came out and executed and got stops in the first two minutes of the overtime. I'm proud of our guys."

Randolph paced the Grizzlies with 25 points and six rebounds. Conley scored 19 points to go along with 12 assists and seven rebounds. Lee and Gasol each posted 16 points while Beno Udrih came off the Memphis bench to score 14 points.

Durant led all scorers with 36 points on 12-for-28 shooting. He also collected 11 boards and four assists. Russell Westbrook added 29 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Forward Serge Ibaka had 15 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots in the loss.

Even though the Thunder hit only 9-of-30 from behind the arc, Durant said his team shot selection was fine.

"I made 5-of-12," Durant said. "I think that's a great percentage. We shot the shots that were open. I think we settled for a few. But like I said, we put ourselves in position to win a basketball game. They just made more plays than we did."

The Grizzlies didn't shrink from the moment of being down 0-1 in the series. After battling for a couple of offensive rebounds, the ball found its way into guard Mike Miller's hands at the top of the key for a 3-pointer that gave Memphis a 95-93 advantage with 53 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Westbrook tried to answer, but his 3-point shot was off and the Grizzlies got the rebound. Conley was fouled and he hit one of two free throws.

The Thunder got the ball to Durant, but he turned it over under guard Tony Allen's pressure. Conley went to line again and hit a pair to give the Grizzlies a 98-93 lead with 18 seconds remaining.

"We have to do a better job getting their hands of him," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said of Allen's defense on Durant. "They did a good job of putting their hands on us and we didn't free ourselves up enough."

Durant made a 3-pointer while being fouled and falling out of bounds. The ensuing free throw closed gap to 98-97 with 13 seconds left.

Conley was fouled and missed one of two from the line for a 99-97 Memphis lead with 12 seconds to go.

The Thunder tried to get the ball to Durant, but he was covered by Allen. Westbrook ended up with an off balance 3-pointer that was off the mark. But Kendrick Perkins, who had just been reinserted into the game, came down with the offensive rebound and put back at the buzzer to send the contest into overtime.

"They got some offensive rebounds and layins," Durant said. "Some miscommunication on our part. They scored some easy ones. We just have to stay with it and stay positive. And get ready for another dog fight."


Notes: Oklahoma City Thunder F Serge Ibaka received the April Kia Community Assist Award in recognition of his charitable contributions and generosity in his home country of the Republic of the Congo, the NBA announced. “It was my dream when I was young to help those orphanages,” Ibaka said. “My mom died when I was 7 and I know how hard it is for those kids in the street, how they live, what they need. So that is why I want to work with UNICEF to do the best I can to help them.” ... Ibaka came in fourth in NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. Chicago’s Joakim Noah took home the award. “Joakim is obviously one of the best defenders in the league, and Serge is right there,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “He’s my defensive player of the year. I know what he does for us.” ... After Game 1 of the series, members of the Memphis media expressed the opinion that coach David Joerger needed to bench F Tayshaun Prince and start F Tony Allen. “We won 50 games and it’s been pretty good since the All-Star break playing the way that we were,” Joerger said. “So I don’t know if we should jump off a cliff after a bad first half. I think that’s absurd.”

Michael Kinney

Follow me @eyeamtruth


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