Kevin Durant scored 21 2nd-half points to lead Oklahoma City Thunder past Memphis Grizzlies93-91 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena and give the Thunder a 1-0 lead in the Western Conference semi final series.
Trailing 90-87, Thunder came up with a stop on defense. Durant drove downcourt and hit a jumper to close the gap to one point with 30 seconds left.
Once again the Thunder defense made a defensive play. Derek Fisher deflected the ball to Durant. Then, with Tayshaun Prince in his face, Durant drained a long jumper to give Oklahoma City a 91-90 advantage with 11.1 seconds on the clock.
Memphis tried to go to Marc Gasol, who passed it back out to Mike Conley. But Thabo Sefolosha forced the Grizzlies into a turnover with 3.5 seconds left.
Memphis fouled Reggie Jackson to send the 2nd-year pro to the line under pressure. He calmly drained both free throws, putting the Thunder up by 3.
But Jackson fouled Memphis’ Quincy Pondexter while attempting a 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left. With a chance to tie the score, he missed two and the Thunder held on.
Durant finished with 35 points, 15 rebounds and six assists.
“I had to make a shot,” Durant said. “My teammates did a good job of believing in me.”
Kevin Martin came off the Oklahoma City Thunder bench to score 25 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field. Jackson added 12 points. Football spreads
Gasol paced Memphis with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks. Zach Randolph scored 18 points and had 1o rebounds. Conley chipped in with 13 points and 3 assists.
Oklahoma City could not have started the game any worse than it did. They missed their first 8 shots from the floor and spotted the Grizzlies a 7-0 advantage before the 1st time-out.
But Durant began to assert himself. There had been talk before the game that Prince could guard Durant by himself and free up the rest of the Grizzlies defenders. Durant put that to rest quickly with 10 points in first quarter.
However, Memphis Grizzlies still led 16-14 heading into the 2nd quarter.
Memphis went to Randolph in the 2nd to settle the game down. He worked his way into the paint for 2 of soft jumpers over the Oklahoma City Thunder big men.
Martin continued his hot shooting from Game 6 against the Houston Rockets. He came out of the 1st-round series with more confident in his offensive skills. Instead of just settling for open 3-pointers, he started to take defenders off the dribble and create his very own shot.
Oklahoma City Thunder led 47-46 at halftime.
Memphis owned the start of the 3rd quarter. A 17-6 run was a continuation of the issues the Thunder had coming out halftime in the postseason.
It was the Grizzlies’ perimeter players that got the run started. Pondexter and Prince each knocked down open shots as the Oklahoma City defense sagged into the paint.
Regardless of that, Oklahoma City Thunder had a chance to get to within 5 with Martin at the free throw line and only 3 seconds on the clock. However, he missed the 2nd attempt and Pondexter made him pay with a half-court shot as the quarter expired. Memphis Grizzlies led 73-64.