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Grizzlies start hot, finish strong in another overtime, takes 3-2 series lead over Thunder

Apr 30, 2014, 1:45 AM EDT

Beno Udrih, Mike Conley Beno Udrih, Mike Conley

Four straight overtime games.

For fans this Grizzlies/Thunders series has been a classic. For the coaches it has cost them sleep, stress and maybe a couple years off the end of their lives.

For the players… well, Memphis is good with it right now.

Memphis started hot opening the game on a 10-2 run, and with smart execution (they played faster, got into their offense earlier and kept making the extra pass) they led by 20. But nobody runs away with a game in this series — Oklahoma City responded with a 13-0 run of their own, they got points from Caron Butler as the much needed scoring option. This was a game again.

An overtime game. Again. But in overtime Mike Miller hit two threes and a missed Kevin Durant free throw — after Joey Crawford interrupted his rhythm — plus a Serge Ibaka tip in that was a fraction of a second too late gave Memphis a 100-99 win.

Memphis now leads 3-2 and is heading home with the chance to eliminate the Thunder on Thursday night.

If the Grizzlies play like they did early in this game offensively come Thursday they may well pull off the upset.

Memphis put up 30 points in the first quarter, shooting 60 percent, as they worked hard to get into their offense more quickly, which let them get deeper into their sets and that led to an extra pass and a good look. Also their bigs running the floor and beating their match down the court led to some easy buckets on rim runs. As they have done all series the Grizzlies had balanced scoring — the leading scorer for Memphis was Mike Miller with 21.

Meanwhile, early on the Thunder were just a lot of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook isolations. Those two combined for 55 points, but again the Thunder were a team looking for a third scorer. Down 18 there were a few boos from a frustrated crowd.

Enter Caron Butler in the third. He had 12 of his points in the second half and sparked a run an 27-6 OKC run to close out the third and start the fourth. The Thunder executed their offense better and, more importantly, just started hitting looks they had missed earlier. They also got help — Westbrook had 30 points, Durant 26 points (on 24 shots) but both Butler and Serge Ibaka had 15 and that was the extra scoring the Thunder offense needed.

Memphis started the fourth 0-of-7 shooting, opening the door for a Thunder squad growing confident and more aggressive with their defense. Then with a Durant three the Thunder took a one point lead with 6:30 left.

That’s when Memphis responded with 9-3 run of their own on 3-of-3 shooting. It’s been like that all series — one team makes a run, the other responds.

The Grizzlies thought thy would win this in regulation — up two with 28 seconds to go they just needed a foul or a shot — instead Westbrook striped Mike Conley out top and tied the game with a breakaway dunk with four seconds left.

Memphis had a last shot, but they made two passes (Conley to Gasol to Zach Randolph) and the shot didn’t get up in time. Memphis scored just 14 in the fourth quarter.

So it was overtime. Again.

In overtime the Thunder were down two with 27.5 seconds left and Memphis played good defense and forced a contested shot at the buzzer — but Tony Allen went over the back of Kevin Durant going for the rebound. Foul and two shots. Durant drains the first, one point game. As he goes to take the second referee Joey Crawford blows his whistle and sprints out to stop the shot, then went over to the scorers table to correct the number of team fouls on the scoreboard. Then Durant gets another chance to shoot, and with a blown rhythm misses.

However the Thunder defended well and down 1 with 2.6 seconds left OKC got one last chance — a Kevin Durant three missed but Ibaka was right there for the tip in and shot. Just after the buzzer sounded. The referees looked at the replay and made the right call, Ibaka did not get it off in time.

Memphis won. They can close out the series Thursday, but will probably need overtime to do it.

  1. thekingdave - Apr 30, 2014 at 1:49 AM

    These playoff games have been awesome. Not much else to add.

  2. antistratfordian - Apr 30, 2014 at 2:04 AM

    So when is LeBron’s MVP ceremony? Next week?

    • bucrightoff - Apr 30, 2014 at 8:38 AM

      What this series should confirm to you is LeBron would not win much if he was based in the Western Conference. Cause beating the sub .500 Hawks to get to the NBA Finals (a very distinct possibility for the Heat) is quite an accomplishment…Eastern Conference sucks, it’s the equivalent of a mid-major.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 30, 2014 at 3:33 PM

        Well the Heat’s win percentage against the West is higher than it is against the East. And he just beat the two best teams in the West in consecutive years in the finals (including the Spurs, who had never lost in the finals before). So I don’t see why anything would change if he were in the West. OKC and SAS still wouldn’t be able to take him out – or anyone else in that conference.

      • bucrightoff - Apr 30, 2014 at 4:01 PM

        Yeah, except getting the Hawks, Knicks, Pistons, Cavs, Bucks, Sixers, Bobcats and Magic (aka a guaranteed 25-30 wins a year), they’d only have the Lakers, Kings and Jazz as guaranteed wins…and only the Lakers until they come back. Sorry but the East is really, really bad. Two teams who missed the playoffs in the West would be the 3 seed if they played in the East (Phoenix, Minnesota)

  3. 24thesho - Apr 30, 2014 at 7:01 AM

    KD did choke, but, that was serious b.s. Joey Crawford pulled at that point of the game, especially when he could have dealt with that issue after the shot. F^%$ing unbelievable.

    • urallstupid - Apr 30, 2014 at 9:26 AM

      after the shot would have stopped the inbound (if durant made his FT) from happening if memphis wanted to go fast. and you can’t deal with the issue until the next whistle if durant missed the FT, which he did.

  4. hojo20 - Apr 30, 2014 at 8:19 AM

    It’s a free throw. KD should make it anyway. Reminds me of Karl Malone’s bricks in the Finals against the Bulls. You’re the MVP, prove it.

  5. jbeagles23 - Apr 30, 2014 at 8:25 AM

    It’s a shame that these great games/series highlights and reports are squeezed in between sterling.

  6. kb2408 - Apr 30, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    It’s obvious Memphis is a terrible matchup for OKC. Very disappointed in KD. Honestly, I didn’t think there was a defense known to man that could contain this dude. If OKC loses then what? New coach? Trade Westbrook? They obviously need an inside threat. Teams don’t even guard Perkins. Offensively, he is one of the worst players I’ve ever seen.

    • zoomy123 - Apr 30, 2014 at 9:50 AM

      Why are you so surprised? What historic or transcendent playoff performances does KD have? Absolutely none. Plus, he’d already gone 5 for 21 in a pivotal game 4. That should have been a clear indication that KD wasn’t ready for prime time.

      If OKC loses, then they need a real head coach. One that will maximize the athleticism, talent and youth of that team by making them run real offensive sets/schemes rather than isolation, dribble, dribble, dribble…brick.

      • kb2408 - Apr 30, 2014 at 12:30 PM

        If I’m correct I believe KD averaged 30 pts on 50% from the field against Miami in the Finals 2 years ago. So, to suggest he hasn’t done anything in the playoffs is foolish.

      • zoomy123 - Apr 30, 2014 at 12:57 PM

        I didn’t say he hasn’t done anything in the playoffs. I said he hasn’t had any historic or transcendent playoff performances. And this is true. He’s had clutch shots or maybe clutch quarters but no historic or transcendent clutch playoff performances.

      • kb2408 - Apr 30, 2014 at 12:36 PM

        I stand corrected, he averaged 31 on 55% from the field….and that was against arguably the best defensive player in the league at the time. So, I have no idea why you think he hasn’t had a transcendent performance. Had Harden showed up, OKC might’ve won. But KD did his part.

  7. jbeagles23 - Apr 30, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    Don’t compare kds shortfalls in the playoffs to lebron. What it really confirms is lebron is the best player in the league still. Remember the heat have beat the mighty west the last two finals

    • bucrightoff - Apr 30, 2014 at 9:35 AM

      Right, after getting a semi-bye to the Finals cause the East is so bad. Memphis would beat Miami in the 1st round too if they met. Miami cannot control Memphis size.

      • zoomy123 - Apr 30, 2014 at 9:56 AM

        Memphis beat Miami? Not even a chance. Do you not realize the difference between OKC’s offense and Miami’s offense? First, Tony Allen isn’t locking down LBJ because Lebron actually has a real post game; plus he’s 4 inches taller and 35 pounds heavier. Second, OKC’s offense consists of isolation basketball between Russell Westbrook + Kevin Durant. Any good defense will eat that up in the post-season all day. Third, Miami emphasizes maximum ball movement and maximum efficiency, that’s why they shot over 50% in the regular season. Does that sound like OKC? Nope.

      • bucrightoff - Apr 30, 2014 at 10:03 AM

        When Chris Bosh, the softest power forward maybe in NBA history, is tasked with stopping either ZBo or Marc Gasol, I very much like Memphis chances. Tony Allen will erase LeBron and that will be that. Miami probably gets outrebounded in that series by at least 50 rebounds.

      • aboogy123456 - Apr 30, 2014 at 12:40 PM

        Zoomy, you act like the only difference between miami and OKC is their offense. Yes, Miami has a much better offense, but the interior D is also a whole lot worse, so you can’t just point to one thing. As buc said, the grizzlies are a nightmare matchup for miami and there is no way that miami could contain randolph and z bo. Miami thrives on pressure D but memphis has a great point guard in conley who can handle it. You’re lucky that miami is in the east.

  8. rodyaugu - Apr 30, 2014 at 9:55 AM


  9. unxpexted1 - Apr 30, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    It’ll be a shame if KD goes out like this two years in a row.

    • rodyaugu - Apr 30, 2014 at 11:08 AM

      And he’ll have nobody to blame, but himself.

  10. phillysports1 - Apr 30, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    It’s funny how everyone predicted OKC In 5 games or in 6 or in 4 in an article few weeks ago; and I was the only one that picked Memphis in 7. And everyone disagreed. Smh not saying series is over but don’t let the superstars FOOL you !

  11. dolphindubs - Apr 30, 2014 at 1:25 PM


    You can’t only point to one thing either. Do you honestly think Z-Bo and/or Gasol would be able to guard Bosh? Bosh would eat them alive knocking down wide-open jumper after jumper. That would counter the inside game that would cause trouble for Miami by those two. Who would the Grizzlies have to counter the games of LeBron and Wade?

    I’d take the Heat in that series without blinking an eye.

    • aboogy123456 - Apr 30, 2014 at 1:44 PM

      I think you make a good point on one matchup but I think it would be closer than you think, in fact memphis beat miami late in the regular season in a great game. In my opinion, the two most important things a team needs to beat miami is to have good interior scoring, and guards who can handle miami’s pressure defense (#3 would be to have kawhi leonard). Memphis is one of the teams that has both of those things, so I just think that in a series it would be easier for them to score consistently than it would be for miami.

      An interesting series to view this would be wizards vs the heat. Wizards fit my description of a team that’s a bad matchup for miami.

  12. emdawt - Apr 30, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    If Dallas can beat San Antonio and Golden State comes back in their series – Memphis has a nice road to the NBA Finals.

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