NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, May 3rd (All times Eastern)
(7) Memphis Grizzlies (3-3) at (2) Oklahoma City Thunder (3-3), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies will play a decisive Game 7 Saturday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena for the right to move on in the Western Conference playoffs.
"This is Game 7," Kevin Durant said. "And I'm looking forward to it."
Game 7 will be contested without Grizzlies All-Star forward Zach Randolph. He was suspended one game for punching Oklahoma City's Steven Adams in the jaw in Game 6.
The Thunder staved off elimination on Thursday with a 104-84 victory in Memphis at FedExForum.
On the same day The Oklahoman ran a headline which read "Mr. Unreliable," Durant made the paper look foolish.
Durant, who is expected to be named the NBA's MVP, scored 36 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Durant posted 14 points in the first quarter and finished with 18 on 7-of-13 efficiency in the first half as Oklahoma City headed into the break with a healthy 56-41 advantage.
The headline by The Oklahoman was in reference to Durant's recent poor play in the series. He had been shooting just 40 percent in the series and 15-of-45 over the past two contests before Thursday.
Durant was 11-of-23 from the floor, despite misfiring on all six of his attempts from beyond the arc, and finished 14-of-15 from the charity stripe for the second-seeded Thunder, who have not lost a first-round playoff series since 2010.
Russell Westbrook provided 25 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals, while Reggie Jackson netted 16 points off the bench in the triumph.
"That was 48 minutes of possession-by-possession defensive mentality type- game," OKC head coach Scott Brooks said. "That's what we wanted to have happen going into this game. We knew we were playing in a tough place to play against a very good team.
"That was the only focus for tonight's game, to give your teammate everything you have and we'll live with the results."
The Thunder are 1-0 in Game 7s since relocating to Oklahoma City. That lone victory came in 2011 when they dispatched the Grizzlies in the conference semifinals. That game was in OKC.
The Grizzlies are 0-2 in Game 7s all-time with the Thunder loss and a first- round exit the following season to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers loss was in Memphis, but the Grizzlies are on the road for this Game 7. Memphis has won two games in Oklahoma City this series.
"We've won there before, we believe that we can win there again," said Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger. "Obviously we need to get off to a quick start in their building for Game 7."
Marc Gasol tallied 17 points and Randolph added 16 points and eight rebounds for Memphis, which can still become the second seventh seed to beat a No. 2 seed in a best-of-seven series on Saturday, joining the 2010 San Antonio Spurs, who beat the Dallas Mavericks.
James Johnson scored 15 points in 18:14 of action and Tony Allen managed 13 points.
Mike Conley only netted five points in less than 28 minutes. He left with a right hamstring injury in the fourth quarter and his availability for Saturday is unknown.
"I play on playing," he said after Thursday's loss.
05/03 10:34:20 ET