With their trademark grit-and-grind mindset, the Grizzlies are making history for a franchise with little prior postseason success.
Zach Randolph had 28 points and 14 rebounds, Mike Conley added 13 points and 11 assists and the 5th-seeded Grizzlies advanced to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 88-84 on Wednesday night.
”This is the first time, so it definitely means a lot. I’m happy, but we’ve still got work to do,” Randolph said. ”I want to win a ring.”
The Memphis Grizzlies, who got swept out of the playoffs in their first 3 trips and had won only 1 postseason series before this season, have recently made it farther than ever but still are not satisfied.
”We’re trying to do something really special. We want to go as far as we can go,” coach Lionel Hollins said. ”To get there, we had to get through Oklahoma City. And now, we have to get through either Golden State Warriors or San Antonio to get further.”
In a series full of games that went down to the finish line, the finale fit right in – even though the Thunder trailed by 12 with 3 minutes left.
Kevin Durant missed a 16-foot jumper from the left wing to tie it with 6 seconds left, finishing off a miserable shooting night for the 3-time NBA scoring champion. Durant finished up with 21 points on 5-for-21 shooting, the 3rd-worst performance of his playoff career.
”I gave it all I had for my team. I left it all out there on the floor,” Durant declared. ”I missed 16 shots, but I kept fighting, I kept being aggressive. That’s all I can ask for.”
The Oklahoma City Thunder, who made it to the NBA Finals last season, were eliminated in 5 games. The top seed in the West went 2-6 after All-Star guard Russell Westbrook had knee surgery 2 games into the first round.
Serge Ibaka had 17 points and 8 rebounds before fouling out with 1:26 to play in a desperation comeback try for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Reggie Jackson’s 3-pointer finished off the 16-6 rally, cutting the deficit to 86-84 with 14.3 seconds remaining.
Randolph missed both free throws with 11.3 seconds on the clock to give the Oklahoma City Thunder a last chance to save their season. Durant got the ball outside the 3-point line on the left wing and navigated around Tony Allen before missing the jumper.
Allen got the bounce was fouled and made 2 free throws to close it out. Las Vegas odds
After letting a 14-point lead get trimmed to 2, the Memphis Grizzlies regained control with a 12-2 run to start the 4th quarter and go up 76-64 with 6:03 remaining. Randolph had 7 points during the stretch, including 5 from the foul line.
It was just a big enough cushion to finish off a collection of games that all came down to the wire. The first 3 games featured a go-ahead basket in the final 2 minutes, and Game 4 went to overtime. Memphis Grizzlies won the last 4 games.