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Thunder come back in Game 1 vs. Grizzlies
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On May 5, 2013 @ 5:30 pm In Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports
OKLAHOMA CITY — Two years after they matched up for a thrilling seven-game series, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies authored a compelling opening act in Sunday’s Game 1 of this second-round NBA playoff series.
Kevin Durant, who led all scorers with 35 points, buried a jumper with 11.1 seconds remaining to help lift the undermanned Thunder to a 93-91 victory over the Grizzlies at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Grizzlies had another chance to try to win the game, but they failed to get a shot off and guard Mike Conley was ruled out of bounds while trying to save the ball with 3.5 seconds remaining. And after being fouled on a three-point attempt that would have tied the game with 1.6 seconds left, Quincy Pondexter made only one of three free throws, missing the final one intentionally.
And so the Thunder, who continue on in the playoffs without injured point guard Russell Westbrook, managed to hold serve in Game 1 at home. In addition to Durant’s strong play, the Thunder leaned heavily on reserve Kevin Martin, who scored 25 points after an uneven performance in the first-round series against the Houston Rockets.
The Grizzlies, who led by as many as 12 points, saw their lead evaporate early in the fourth quarter. Martin’s three-pointer brought the Thunder to within two points with just over 10 minutes remaining. Durant’s running jump shot tied the game at 84 with less than four minutes to play.
Two years after the seven-game, second-round series, this series now promises to be just as fiercely competitive and contentious between two teams unlikely to back down from each other.
Just consider that in three regular season meetings this season, they combined for nine technical fouls. And Memphis’ Zach Randolph and Oklahoma City’s Kendrick Perkins were ejected in one matchup.
The physicality was apparent early in Game 1 on Sunday when the Thunder’s Nick Collison was assessed a flagrant foul after fouling Tayshaun Prince hard midway through the second quarter.
The Thunder settled down after a disheartening start in which they missed their first 10 field goal attempts before Durant’s step-back, mid-range jumper with 7:01 … [For more on Kevin Durant, Thunder come back in Game 1 vs. Grizzlies, click here.]
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