If you perchance are not watching the second round match-up between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies you are truly doing yourself a major disservice. There is a very good possibility when all is said and done that the series to clinch the other Western Conference Finals slot was the best match-up this year in the NBA Playoffs. If I still have not convinced you than perhaps this bit of information will do the trick. The Thunder and Grizzlies were locked in a battle Monday night at the Fed Ex Forum before Oklahoma City finally won the contest 133-123.
This was the second straight game for the two teams that could not be decided in 48 minutes. The Grizzlies would win the first game of the series played in their building on Saturday and won that contest 101-93. However they were unable to pull off the same fate in two consecutive contests as the Thunder held on for the win.
The victory for Oklahoma City knots up the series once again as each team have won two games and game five will be played at the Thunder’s home court on Wednesday. Russell Westbrook paced Oklahoma City with a game high 40 points while Kevin Durant racked up a double-double including 34 points. Zach Randolph led the way once again for Memphis with 34 points while Marc Gasol had an incredibly strong performance recording a double-double as he added 26 points in the loss.
This was truly a roller-coaster affair with both teams gaining and then losing substantial leads throughout the game until things would tighten up down the stretch. Memphis would dominate the opening period and they would end the quarter holding the upper hand at 28-16 as Greivis Vasquez hit a shot from eight feet out with ten seconds to play. Oklahoma City started to dig themselves out of the hole they were in during the second and they were pretty close to earth level at the end of the quarter. James Harden stroked a pair from the charity stripe with 26 seconds remaining and as the two teams left the court the Grizzlies lead had shrunk to just 53-49.
After trailing for most of the third Kendrick Perkins drove the lane putting the ball up and in putting the Thunder on top 69-68 with 1:58 left in the period. Memphis however would have the edge at the end of the quarter leading 72-71 courtesy of a Gasol lay-up. Oklahoma City looked like they were on the verge of taking the game over with 5:24 left in the fourth as Westbrook hit a shot was fouled on the play and made his shot at the line. That would put OKC in charge at 90-80; but the Grizzlies were not going to go quietly into the night. With three seconds left in regulation Mike Conley buried a 26 foot trey which tied the score at 96-96 and sent the game into overtime.
The Thunder held a seven point lead early in the extra period but Vasquez buried a 26 foot trey with nine seconds to go knotting up the score at 109-109 and sending the contest to a second overtime. Neither club could pull further ahead than 2 points at any time in the next extra period and once again the buzzer sounded with the game deadlocked at 119-119 and the teams had yet another overtime to contend with. Memphis seemed to run out of gas in the third overtime as Oklahoma City pulled ahead but the Grizzlies did not respond and the Thunder held on for the win.
The two teams are now knotted up at 2-2 and will play game five Wednesday in Oklahoma City.