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NBA Playoffs: Thunder win the best game of these playoffs

May 10, 2011, 2:49 AM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant drives to the basket by Memphis Grizzlies Zach Randolph and Shane Battier in Memphis Reuters

It was long. It was draining. It was sloppy. It was brilliant. It was physical. It had easy shots missed and impossible ones hit. It was entertaining. It was basketball you could not turn away from.

It was the best game of the playoffs so far.

And in the end — three overtimes later — Oklahoma City has evened its series with Memphis 2-2 after a 133-123 win.

For us fans, thank you Memphis and Oklahoma City.

It leaves us a tied series with this simple question — which team can bounce back better from this exhausting game? The team that does will win. Can Memphis bounce back from this kind of devastating loss? Did Oklahoma City leave everything they have on the court and can they play with the energy needed again in less than 48 hours? (The last three winners of a playoff triple overtime game lost the series.)

But oh, what a Game 4.

At first it was Oklahoma City that had to rally back — down 18 at one point in the second quarter — but they found a way to get turnovers and some fast break buckets.

Once again it looked like Oklahoma City was going to find a way to blow a lead — they were up by five points with 7:30 left in the fourth quarter.

And then they ran in to the same problem — a nine-minute stretch where Kevin Durant did not get a shot off. Russell Westbrook took a lot of heat for this the last few days around the Interwebs, and he deserves some of the blame. He can get tunnel vision on shots. But Durant becomes a spectator, not moving to get open, not doing his part to get into position. Coach Scott Brooks deserves part of the blame. Everyone deserves some blame for not getting James Harden the ball as a shot creator more in this situation because he is the best passer, best pure point guard they have. Harden was a beast in this game.

And all that takes away from what Memphis did. They created turnovers, they grabbed offensive boards (on 38.7 percent of their missed shots on the night).

And oh, did they make shots.

There was Mike Conley with a ridiculous three from 28 feet out over the outstretched arm of Kendrick Perkins with three seconds left to send it to the first overtime. (Yes, they should have fouled before the shot.)

There was rookie Greivis Vasquez — in only because Conley had fouled out — who matched Conley’s ridiculous three and upped it one with a leaning shot-put of a three to send it to a second overtime.

Through it all both teams were beating each other up inside — Nick Collison banging on Zach Randolph, Kendrick Perkins banging on everyone (but missing two key free throws that could have ended this game a lot earlier).

The thunder kept pulling away — Durant at one point hit a ridiculous catch-and-shoot three to put the Thunder up by 7 in one overtime. But O.J. Mayo answered with a three. And so it went, shot by shot, answer for answer.

Until in the third overtime, when the Grizzlies could not summon another answer to another Thunder run.

It was a roller coaster. Westbrook finished with 40 points, Durant had 35 on 20 shots, plus 13 rebounds. Harden had 19, Mayo 18.

It was amazing. Flat out stunning.

And the team that best recovers from it will win the series.

  1. oumoonunit - May 10, 2011 at 3:26 AM

    I had to restart my bar tab three times during that game. It was ridiculous. I am glad I did not miss it though; no other team has played with that heart in the playoffs. Most other teams would rather lay down and die, or they would rather foul out, leaving their teams on the court without them, and lose. I wish these teams could make it to the finals, because there will not be a more heart felt series this year.

  2. davidly - May 10, 2011 at 5:26 AM

    The last three winners of a playoff triple overtime game lost the series.

    This is irrelevant, as other factors are what gave the team that won the series the foreseeable advantage, ie. context is everything:

    – as many of us recall from two years ago, Chicago was facing elimination at home in that game, but then had to go back to Boston for game 7.
    – and in ’04 the Nets held home-court, but for the final two games had to go back to Detroit where they had not been able to win.
    – Phoenix was down 0-2 to the Bulls in ’93 when they won their triple overtime game.

    I’d say this one is less predictable in that they are all tied up, and Memphis has shown that they can win in Ok City.

    (By the way, in ’76, Boston won in triple overtime at home against the Phoenix and closed out the series two days later on the road.)

  3. thekingdave - May 10, 2011 at 7:31 AM

    I think your writing gets worse with each post.

    • bosutton - May 10, 2011 at 8:39 AM

      Hey Dave,
      How bout you stop reading then. Jesus Christ, it’s not that hard to avoid a free website.

  4. thekingdave - May 10, 2011 at 9:25 AM

    Thanks bosutton, how insightful. Alot of us bash them constantly, but I guess my attempt just sent you over the edge with the religious reference (insert sarcasm).

    • bosutton - May 10, 2011 at 4:20 PM

      So Dave, I’m going to be a d*ck now, because sometimes a**holes like you need to be aboslutely f*cked. A site puts up 10-15 quality posts a day, a mix of reporting and opinions, which are free. Now you have a couple of options, A) Read it all B) Read none of it C) Read some of it. If you only want to read the pure reporting then just read the pure reporting. I understand a lot of you bash them constantly, so instead of having a comments section that is enjoyable this becomes the basketball equivalent of engadget’s comments.
      So I’m going to propose something for you, you can maybe try it out and save the rest of us from your asinine commentary. Try option B). Really, no one will care. No one will miss you. You will apparently be more happy. I won’t speak for Kurt or the writer’s but I’m sure it’s not pleasant to see honest to god dumba**es post everyday who don’t understand basic internet, and really just basic english, rules like you need to have something that can be construed as sarcasm to dust off the old (insert sarcasm) move. God speed, have a good life, and maybe read a kurt vonnegut book so you can understand what sarcasm is.

      • torotrigger - May 10, 2011 at 4:42 PM

        this rant made me laugh

        anyways…if you woulda told me a couple years ago id stay up til 130 in the morning watching a triple overtime thriller between an NBA team in Oklahoma and Memphis i woulda punched you in the mouth and demanded to know why the NBDL was on t.v. – kudos to the Grizz’ love watching them do their thing – and its a shame Rudy Gay isnt out there…

  5. memphismiracle - May 10, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    Well, as a Memphis fan, it was crushing to see them lose that huge lead in the first place and then the game in the 3rd OT…but it was a fun game to watch. I couldn’t believe that Vasquez hit that three. He is capable of anything out there…from a game tying, double OT forcing three to air balling a layup. Here’s hoping Conley stays out of foul trouble tomorrow.

  6. wilcore - May 10, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    Write and bloggers seem to lean a little bit toward the Grizzlies! Fact is Durant didn’t get the ball enough(he scored 35) and Westbrook didn’t do enough distributing(but he scored 40). Also, Randolph is no angel as he punched Collison at least once! Thunder should have won this game at least three times but the Grizzlies fired back! People need to get off of Westbrook; he is a player period!


    • memphismiracle - May 11, 2011 at 7:24 AM

      I think a lot of people lean toward Memphis because a lot of people like an underdog story. It also makes people look like they are a genius if they pick an upset and it happens. The truth is, the Thunder are more talented than the Grizzlies but the Grizzlies are a bit deeper than the Thunder. Randolph is getting mauled on almost every possession and Perkins pushed him right in the face right in front of the refs without a call. I think they are really letting this series get physical and letting the players figure out which team is better. It has been a fantastic series and I cannot wait until the game tonight. I just hope Westbrook forgets he can blow past everyone on the Grizzlies on his way to rim tonight.

      • davidly - May 11, 2011 at 7:37 AM

        I have to admit that I’m rooting for the underdog as well. But mostly because I have seen their play thus far, and I like their game.

        Re: the Perkins’ push
        Casual observers of this sport are sometimes so busy with their Artest-ations that they remain oblivious to how much it pervades the league. Or maybe it’s just selective criticism?

        At any rate: Go Grizzlies!

  7. thekingdave - May 11, 2011 at 12:42 AM

    Wow, tons of effort for no real reason.

    • davidly - May 11, 2011 at 3:41 AM

      I doubt Memphis really sees it that way.

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