Grizzlies 98 - Thunder 95
- Marc Gasol started off the quarter great, bringing a level of play that was above his good-but-not-awesome first two games. That lead to him getting the first points, but his play also lead to two quick fouls. He was replaced by Kosta Koufos, who helped lead a thrilling defensive ping pong match in mid court that showed much about the two teams defensively as much as it did the referees that let them play it out.
- The Grizzlies defense kept OKC to 2 for 11 at one point, with K2 putting a monster block on Caron Butler.
- Recent Sportsman of The Year winner Mike Conley was a little unkind to Kevin Durant and shook him until he hit the ground (and didn't even help him up).
- Coach Dave Joerger showed some great confidence in his guys putting in a small ball lineup in the ending moments with Beno Udrih, Mike Miller, Courtney Lee, Tony Allen and Koufos on the floor.
- Gasol and Prince returned to the starting five, but it didn't really matter because the opening was all Tony Allen. Two great layups and a deadshot from the corner showed the Grindfather was happy to be home.
- Nick Collison got away with what was undoubtably an offensive interference, but the refs were determined to let the teams play it out.
- Grizz defense kept OKC to 0-7 from 3Pts while Udrih hit the first one for the Grizzlies, continuing his streak of Hero Ball. Beno and TA combined for 17 points in the middle of the quarter. Russell Westbrook and Durant combined for 13.
- Tayshaun Prince seemed in better health this game and although he was his usual anemic offensive self, he kept the pressure on Durant who ended the half on 4 for 9 shooting with 12 points.
- A slippery floor seemed to have people falling all over the place, punctuated by a loose ball scrum that had Kendrick Perkins literally sit on a supine Mike Miller. Things started to get physical and chippy and a foul from behind on Zbo saw his trademark headband even on the floor.
- OKC was held to their fewest points in a half in the entire season at 36.
Moment of the Half:
Kosta Being Kosta, the big block on Caron Butler kept up the defensive momentum and emphasized how much the Grizzlies were going to make the Thunder work for every bucket.
Player of the Half:
Tony Allen. 10 points on 5 for 6 shooting, 4 rebounds, continuing to work Durant into the ground and even pulled off a repeat move of the game tying shot from Monday when he went to the basket, drew three defenders, got up in the air and dumped it off to Gasol for an easy bucket.
- The hits kept coming, the Thunder's outside shooting couldn't hit the broadside of a barn and even Tayshaun Prince got in on the action, scoring 4 points on an interior defense that looked like they had gum stuck to the bottom of their shoes.
- Westbrook was the only Thunder player that was hitting any shot for a while, as Durant did not take a shot attempt until 6:34 and that was a fast break layup.
- Randolph started the quarter off slowly, missing 7 straight shots, but the Grizzlies kept the lead at a comfortable 10 points for most of the quarter, even with Prince still on the floor for a long stretch. Russell Westbrook did look poised to strike, running with an intensity that we saw in Game 2, but nobody else on the Thunder was able to get anything going. Even when Durant pushed inside with under 4 minutes, he missed two layups in front of the rim.
- But the quarter belonged to Mike Conley. He pushed the speed of the game, hit a three and provided a push when Randolph's shot went cold.
- The Thunder went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 10 pts for the Grizzlies, making everyone very nervous.
- Zbo pulled a Marc Gasol, sitting on the elbow and fed a streaking Beno for a layup to keep the cushion on their lead. The Grizz had some good looks from Beno and Allen, but they were not falling. An interesting small ball lineup of Gasol-Koufos-MIller-Allen & Beno held the ground for a while, not bringing a ton of offensive firepower, but hustling the Thunder.
- Udrih went isolation on KD and pulled a spin move into a great layup. Koufos wrestled a rebound away from Ibaka and was rewarded by TA on the other side of the court with a nifty footwork hook shot.
- Grizzlies bench at one point had outscored the Thunder's 30-9, this was also without a single Mike Miller bucket. But the Thunder went on another 7-0 run, again winding down the lead to just ten points, again led by Westbrook. Westbrook sat out the start of the 4th with heating pads on both of his knees and was still able to strike in the court with speed and agility to try and keep the Thunder in the game.
- Memphis went scoreless for three minutes, which you should not do and you REALLY should not do in the 4th. They seemed to have abandoned their game plan, resulting in Tony Allen jumpers, an ignored Marc Gasol, unnecessary Zbo isolation ball and loses in offensive rebounds.
- Tony Allen had an acrobatic steal from a KD pass, but the nails were still being chewed as it did not result in a basket. Under 2 minutes to play the lead was dwindled down to three on a 14-0 run.
- A bad pass from Conley lead to a fast break with Westbrook tying the game with under a minute to go. Tony Allen answered with a stuff to bring the lead back. And then another pickpocket steal on Westbrook for another layup.
- Then TA gave it away by fouling Westbrook from behind the arc for an and-one.
- Out of the time out in the last seconds, Conley had a good isolation look, but like many shots that quarter, it just refused to fall through the hoop.
- The shots for the Grizzlies continued to fall away until Gasol hit a post up jumper, his first shot since 6 minutes remaining in the third quarter. Conley added with a three pointer with three minutes left. And a fast break for Conley put up the Grizz after a much needed 7-0 run.
- A rotation off a screen put Tony Allen on the hot hand of Westbrook, who was stifled into missing a circus shot. The Grizzlies looked confidant again, taking their time instead of standing around waiting for 5 seconds left on the shot clock.
- Gasol got more touches on the ball and even if he was only an early handle for a pass, a play seemed to generate instead of just shooters waiting for something to happen.
- But all would not come easy as with 1.7 seconds left and a four point lead for the Grizzlies, Tony Allen makes the knucklehead play of tripping Westbrook and he puts up a shot falling down. Westbrook missed the 2nd attempt and with only .9 seconds remaining, the lone Ed Davis appearance in the game saved it by him swatting away the intentional miss.
Moment of the Half
After chewing our fingernails down to bloody stumps, Mike Conley's three pointer in OT finally gave the Grizz faithful some much needed breathing room.
Player of the Game
Mike Conley. 20 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, great penetration into the lane, but more importantly, he broke this years Award Curse which had previously brought down Joakim Noah and Greg Popovich with their team loses on nights when they received their respective awards.