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January 15, 2014

Gasol returns in Grizzly win over the Thunder

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Courtney Lee scored a season-high 24 points, including the closing two free throws, and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 90-87 on Tuesday night in Marc Gasol’s return to the lineup.

Zach Randolph had 23 points and 13 rebounds on the night his inside partner came back after missing almost eight weeks with a left knee injury. Gasol played 24 minutes and finished with 12 points. Mike Conley had 19 points and seven assists for Memphis, which won its third straight.

Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 37 points, converting 15 of 28 shots. Reggie Jackson scored 17, but also committed seven of Oklahoma City’s 19 turnovers. Serge Ibaka finished with 11 points and four blocks as the Thunder lost their third in the last four.

The statistics were even throughout. The Thunder held a 45-43 advantage on the boards, and Memphis outscored Oklahoma City 42-40 in the paint.

Even in the fourth, the Thunder outscored Memphis 20-18, but it wasn’t enough.

Lee converted a 22-footer from the right wing as time ran out in the third period to help Memphis carry a 72-67 lead into the final period.

Memphis, which trailed 47-43 at the break, converted 10 of 18 shots in the third, while the Thunder managed only 9 of 22. That led to the Grizzlies outscoring Oklahoma City 29-20 in the period.

Memphis still held the lead at 87-84 with less than a minute left. Jackson missed a shot, then Gasol missed a 7-footer in the lane for Memphis. Oklahoma City had the ball after a timeout with 20 seconds left. Durant drove and kicked the ball out to Ibaka, who missed a 3-pointer from the left corner.

Randolph split a pair of free throws with 10.6 seconds remaining for an 88-84 lead, enough that Ibaka’s 3-pointer with 4.6 seconds left wasn’t enough.

Lee’s free throws provided the final margin.

The Thunder weathered an early burst of points from Lee, who had 14 in the first quarter as Memphis built a 12-point lead.

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