Grizzlies 100 - Thunder 99
The Grizzlies came out in their Baby Blue uniforms that worked so well for them on Game 2. The good luck started well, the Thunder going easy on defending with Zach Randolph getting single coverage and he ran over Kendrick Perkins like Adam Silver over a certain NBA owner.
The Thunder's shooting was still very poor, even with Kevin Durant hitting his first jumper of the night. Russell Westbrook's shooting was especially poor, shots bouncing around the rim 2-3 times but still not falling in. Thunder tried to move inside and increase their inside the paint shooting, but the Grizz were going to make them work for it.
With a mini Thunder run, Tayshaun Prince showed up with a good defensive stop, a steal and even a couple buckets!
With Prince on a run, Coach Dave Joerger put Tony Allen and Prince on the floor at the same time. A dangerous prospect offensively, but a defensive dream team. Allen with an acrobatic steal and for a minute, the Grizz looked like they were flying with puppet strings.
A close ending with an Ibaka three to pull the Grizzlies lead to 5, but still a strong close.
Hero of Game 3, Reggie Jackson started the quarter with a three pointer. Kosta Koufos answered on the other end, keeping Marc Gasol on the bench after a scoreless first quarter. Shots were traded back and forth, but a fast break lead by a Tony Allen steal lead to, finally, a Mike Miller three.
The Thunder's 4/4 on 3pt shooting kept them close, but anything closer to the basket was getting stopped by the staunch Grit n Grind crew.
Mike Miller finally got his shot back after a dreadful first 4 games, but if the Grizzlies were going to trade shots, Miller would have to be a bigger contributor. He was lucky that he was being guarded by a slower Caron Butler. The Grizzlies defense needed some increase on the perimeter defense, because that was the only offense the Thunder could generate.
Gasol made up for his offensive drought by sneaking in an elbow on Ibaka's head without a foul call and then next possession hit a jumper.
Zbo returned with 5:30 left in the quarter while the Grizzlies built up their biggest lead of the game, 12 points. Westbrook also spent a chunk of that time on the bench, but Reggie Jackson, Ibaka and Derek Fisher kept the shooting busy behind the line.
The Grizzlies kept the lead comfortably at 12, even with Jackson hitting a three, the team defense kept the Durant-Westbrook axis buried under the sea.
Miller hit another long three with his heels practically brushing the mid court logo of OKC. Scary moment when Mike Conley went after his own rebound and fell hard to the court, but he seemed okay after brushing himself off.
Memphis ended the half with a twelve point lead.
Moment of the Half
The Grizzlies broke up a 4-on-3 fast break and turned into two points. No one person dominated in the half but the team momentum to slow down and stop the offensive threat has been the story that we've just had to keep repeating due to it's abundance.
Player of the Half
Mike Miller. 11 points, 3 of 4 behind the line, 4-5 FG's, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals. If the Grizzlies were ever going to pull away from the Thunder, Let It Fly was going to need a game like this.
Gasol and Courtney Lee set up a nice double screen for Conley to get his first bucket of the quarter. Westbrook answered by splitting three defenders for an acrobatic bucket. The Chesapeake arena was brought to a quiet halt by a Conley three pointer and a Gasol jumper that was facilitated by Conley.
Durant's frustration was apparent, even though he was gifted an superstar call lowering his shoulder into Prince, he still could not hit a shot, under 6 minutes in the third, he had 12 points on 5 for 14 shooting. At one point every member of the Thunder was in the negative on the +/- scale except for Steven Adams, who was at 0.
OKC went on a run and closed the gap to 9 points. Randolph got mugged in the paint and was called for a three second violation. Caron Butler hit a three to make the run 12-0 in three minutes. The Thunder offense started to roll at exactly the wrong time for the Grizzlies. Wetstbrook hit a three to end the quarter with a 18-3 run. The lead was down to 6 and it was a bad quarter, but typical of the bad 3rd quarter we had seen in the long middle stretch of the Grizzlies season.
The Grizzlies continued to get bad calls. And although they had some good ball movement and decent looks, they seemed to get infected with whatever was plaguing Durant: the shots just would not fall. Some physical plays that seemed to be mostly facilitated by the shooting looking for some extra.
The Thunder was favoriting the three but due to good defense and poor shot selection, the Grizzlies were able to keep the lead, but were also unable to capitalize on the other end. With under 9 minutes to play, the Grizzlies looked fatigued, having to keep up with the notorious Thunder energy for the first time all game.
The Grizzlies started 0 for 7 in the field to start the quarter. While Durant hit a three with under 7 minutes gave the Thunder their first lead.
Around the 5 minutes mark, the Grizz defense started to tighten up and the offense was rewarded by consecutive baskets from Miller and Randolph. The lead was still tenuous, but the Thunder shots were hitting the front of the rim and Mike Conley took over with two big layups to bring the lead back up to 5 points with 3:30 left.
The Grizz swarmed and smothered on rebounds. Caron Butler hit a three that turned into a 4 point play due to a sloth like foul from Zbo. That cut the lead down to one.
Conley came up with a big steal under a minute left, but couldn't get a shot down on the other side. A scuffle on the next Thunder possession put Tony Allen on the line with exactly 30 seconds left. He hit one, missed the second but got the rebound with a 2 point lead with 20 seconds remaining.
With time winding down, Westbrook picked the pocket of Conley and tied the game up with 4 seconds remaining.
Although Joerger drew a pretty nifty play with lots of ball movement, the Grizzlies were too tired to execute it in time.
For the fourth game in a row, testing the patience of Grizzlies fans and their loved ones, we got free basketball.
Proving that they just need a little bit more time to finish it off, Mike Miller started off the extra period with two threes. Durant followed up with two layups in the paint, pushing Gasol around.
Tony Allen hustled for a rebound and a fast break and passed up a wide open Conley to get stuffed by Reggie Jackson.
A couple of Zbo FT's put the lead up to 8 with 2:33 left but the tension was still able to fill your stomach. Randolph kept going cold inside and an Ibaka jumped tied the game with 1:27 left.
A Conley missed three was held in Grizzlies hands and he cut back inside for a easy layup. Westbrook missed on the other end and wound up on the floor for an extended period of time. The Grizzlies were unable to add to their lead before losing the ball out of bounds.
Excellent defense against the Thunder was squandered with an over-the-back fall on Durant by TA reaching for the rebound. Durant only hit one.
A wild cross court pass from Conley to Miller as the shot clock wound down put Miller in a bad long three and it was Thunder's possession with 2.6 seconds and a 1 point Grizzlies lead.
Durant missed a jumper and it looked like Ibaka had made it initially, but it was reviewed and Joey Crawford waved it off. It was very close to call whether it was still in Ibaka's hand as time expired.
Moment of the Period
Mike Miller's two three pointers to start the half show that the Grizzlies know how to end a game, just not necessarily how to end a quarter.
Player of the Game
Mike Miller finished with 21 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. His opening in overtime swung the momentum back towards the Grizzlies way after an abysmal 2nd half. Miller needed to win a game for the Grizz to keep going deep and against rival Thunder, it was especially sweet.