NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, April 26th (All times Eastern)
(2) Oklahoma City Thunder (1-2) at (7) Memphis Grizzlies (2-1), 9:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Memphis Grizzlies can take a commanding lead in their Western Conference quarterfinals series with the Oklahoma City Thunder when the two teams collide in Game 4 Saturday night at FedExForum.
Memphis took a 2-1 series lead with a 98-95 home overtime victory in Game 3 Thursday night.
The seventh-seeded Grizzlies, who knocked the Thunder out in the second round last season, never trailed in the second half and owned a commanding 81-64 lead with 7:44 left in the fourth quarter, but went ice cold down the stretch, going the next seven minutes without a point as the Thunder clawed back in it.
All five Thunder starters scored during the ensuing 17-0 run, which Russell Westbrook capped with a corner 3-pointer to tie the game at 81-81 with just under a minute remaining. Tony Allen finally broke the seal for Memphis with a baseline jam at the other end, and he stripped Westbrook and went in for a layup to make it 85-81 with 33.1 seconds left.
Then, it was deja vu for Memphis. Three nights after Kevin Durant's four-point play in the final seconds helped the Thunder force overtime, Westbrook did the same on Thursday with 26.6 ticks to play. The electric point guard rose up for a 3-pointer from the top of the key and drew contact from Allen, hitting the shot and ensuing free throw to tie the game at 85. Both teams came up empty on their last possessions in regulation.
Durant opened the extra session with a three-point play down low, but Mike Conley followed a Marc Gasol post bucket with five straight points, and the Grizzlies never trailed the rest of the way.
"Very impressed with our crew," Memphis head coach David Joerger said. "They stayed together, handled the adversity. We got a little slow, we got a little tentative with the lead."
Conley scored 20 points, Zach Randolph and Allen had 16 points apiece. Randolph posted team highs with 10 rebounds and six assists, Gasol netted 14 points with eight boards and for the second straight game, Beno Udrih came up huge off the bench for the Grizzlies, posting 12 points in 14 minutes.
Durant and Westbrook scored 30 points apiece for Oklahoma City, but missed 17 shots apiece. The two took every shot for the Thunder from the halfway point of the fourth quarter until the waning seconds of overtime and only combined for five assists.
"We've been down 0-2 before, been down 1-2. I think that experience is going to help us out," Durant said. "We just have to be better. Hopefully, our shots go down."
The Thunder fell to the Grizzlies in the semifinals last season, but Westbrook was shelved with a knee injury.
The Memphis bench dominated the Oklahoma City second unit, 34-9. The Thunder shot a miserable 5-for-28 from 3-point range and Durant, the league's leading scorer, went 0-for-8.
Memphis has won 15 straight at home and the Grizzlies have won seven out of its last eight dating back to the regular season.
Game 5 will shift back to Oklahoma City on Tuesday night.
04/26 10:32:40 ET