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Grizzlies take 3-1 series lead after OT win
MEMPHIS -- Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks said before Monday night's Western Conference semifinal Game 4 against the Memphis Grizzlies that the contest would be just like the first three.
"It's whoever wins the game's last two minutes," Brooks said.
Again, it was the Grizzlies, and Memphis emerged with a 103-97 overtime victory at FedExForum to grab a 3-1 series lead.
After Zach Randolph's game-winning 16-footer was blocked at the end of regulation by the Thunder's Kendrick Perkins, the Grizzlies kept grinding in overtime. Memphis relied on cool free-throw shooting and solid defense in the closing moments to take the win.
A Marc Gasol 15-footer with 22.8 seconds left in overtime broke Oklahoma City's spirit, giving the Grizzlies a 100-97 lead. Memphis wrapped up the win with three free throws.
Memphis overcame a 17-point, first-half deficit.
Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 24 points, and Gasol and Randolph scored 23 apiece while combining for 23 rebounds.
Kevin Durant finished with 27 points for the Thunder, but he hit just 10 of 27 shots. Kevin Martin and Serge Ibaka added 18 points and 17 points, respectively.
Game 5 is Wednesday at Oklahoma City, where the Grizzlies won Game 2.
"People who walked out of this building tonight can't say they didn't get their money's worth," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "They made a few more plays than us."
Especially in overtime, when the Thunder made just one of eight shots, the lone field goal a Derek Fisher 3-pointer. Durant, who tied the game at 94-94 with 6.4 seconds left in regulation, was 0-for-5 in the extra period.
"Our guys did everything they could to put themselves in position to win," Brooks said. "We played a solid basketball game and we have nothing to be ashamed of."
Both teams were clawing for baskets in overtime, and the Grizzlies got a timely one from Gasol in the final minute. In a pick-and-roll with Conley, Conley appeared to be trapped with the shot clock winding inside three seconds.
The point guard found Gasol, who basically caught, shot and hit the hoop that gave the Grizzlies a three-point lead.
"I took a look at the shot clock and there was over two seconds left," Gasol said. "I saw Ibaka with his hands low, I gave him a little jab (step), and I knew I had to shoot it. I was lucky it went in."
Just getting the game to overtime took some work for the Grizzlies.
Memphis gained a huge confidence boost by reducing the Thunder's big early lead to single digits at halftime.
The Grizzlies missed their first seven shots of the game, and it didn't get much better for them in the first quarter as Oklahoma City took a 29-18 lead.
After a cold shooting Game 3, Oklahoma City hit 55.6 percent in the opening period, connecting on four of five 3-point attempts. The Thunder did a superb job on Randolph, surrounding him and forcing him to commit two fouls that put him on the bench.
Ibaka, after a poor Game 3, was hot at the start Monday, compiling nine points and seven rebounds in the opening quarter.
Though the Grizzlies' offense came to life slightly in the second quarter, Memphis still couldn't get enough stops to reel in the Thunder, who held a 56-48 lead at the break.
"We came out, made a lot of shots and we got up 17," Durant said. "(The Grizzles) got both their bigs in the game, slowed the game down and got to the free-throw line. Then, they got hot hitting 3s in the second quarter."
It became clear that Hollins needed to make a defensive adjustment at halftime, because veteran Tayshaun Prince couldn't stop Durant. When Tony Allen guarded Durant in the first half, Durant was ineffective.
The Grizzlies got back in the game when Hollins finally switched Allen on Durant, and Durant was held scoreless while Memphis made its run to pull into a 76-76 tie at the end of three quarters.
Memphis trailed 68-59 with 5:52 left in the third quarter when Hollins switched Allen to guard Durant, who already had 10 points in the period. Allen held Durant scoreless for the next 9:30 until Allen went to the bench for a breather.
Allen didn't want to take all the credit for sidetracking Durant, who missed 12 of his last 14 shots. Prince played some solid defense on Durant in overtime, and Quincy Pondexter also had a chance to tail Durant.
"We can't stop him from getting his numbers," Allen said. "The best thing we can do is keep a fresh body on him, rotate our guys and have our bigs help us as much as possible. I'm always a thirsty dog, and I'm always confident."
NOTES: The Grizzlies outscored Oklahoma City 44-30 in the paint after the Thunder held a 44-20 advantage in Game 3. ... The Thunder made 15 turnovers, while the Grizzlies gave the ball away just seven times. ... Since the start of the 2009-10 season, the Grizzlies have won 11 games when trailing by at least 17 points, the most by any NBA team in that span. ... Ibaka, who finished with 14 rebounds, had his second straight double-double. ... Allen was named to the NBA's All-Defensive first-team on Monday, as was Ibaka. Gasol, who two weeks ago was named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year, was on the second team, as was Conley.