Recapping all the action from Monday Night
Memphis won the tip and began the game looking like the team that started in game 1. In their first two possessions, the Grizzlies looked lost and had to take awkward jump shots. Lucky for all Grizz fans, the offense started to heat up after Courtney Lee and Mike Conley switched gears and hit a few floaters inside the paint. For the Thunder, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook started ice cold, but were able to get into a rhythm with some short jump shots and trips to the line. The game remained low scoring and close for most of the quarter, but the Grizzlies were able to capitalize on fast break opportunities and Thunder turnovers to go on a 16-8 run and lead the game 24 -16 at the end of the first.
In a surprisingly turn of events, the 2nd quarter became the unlikely battle between Derek Fisher and Beno Udrih, who was playing heavy minutes with Conley in foul trouble. With both benches in the game, the Grizzlies were able to maintain their lead but could not gain a comfortable cushion despite Durant and Westbrook sitting most of the quarter.
Using the offensive momentum gained from the 1st quarter, Westbrook tried his best to narrow the gap towards the end of the quarter, but the Thunder and he could not keep the Grizzlies from matching their shots and kept a lead of 46 to 43 going into halftime.
1st quarter notes:
- In game one, two of the issues that contributed to the Grizzlies falling into a big hole were free throw misses and fast break points by the Thunder. Credit Dave Joerger for his preparation in tonight's game. In the 1st quarter, the Grizzlies hit all their free throws and beat the Thunder 8-0 in fast break points.
- It was really nice to see the Grizzlies bench come into the game and contribute. Beno Udrih replaced Conley after he received his 2nd foul and quickly scored 4 points on a layup and 2 free throws. Ed Davis had an impressive block on Serge Ibaka, that lead to an Allen fast break. The Grizzlies bench outscored the Thunder's bench 8- 0.
- Speaking of Tony Allen...he replaced Tayshaun Prince midway through the quarter and instantly started causing chaos on the defensive end. He had two steals, and both were pretty impressive. For the first, he jumped in front of Westbrook pass to Durant and started a fastbreak opportunity finished by Lee. On the 2nd, he poked the ball away from Reggie Jackson, and did a nifty behind-the-back pass to Beno Udrih who was fouled and earned free throws.
- Much like in game 1, Zach Randolph struggled in the quarter. He could not get any good looks and was blocked 3 times. (Once by Durant, Once by Serge Ibaka, and Once by Kendrick Perkins) Marc Gasol on the other hand was able to find his range and scored a team high 6pts.
- In a total reversal from game 1, the Grizzlies were shooting 48% from the field, while the Thunder were only at 26%
- The Grizzlies had zero turnovers in the quarter.
2nd quarter notes:
- Ed Davis had some nice offensive rebounds and played well during the quarter, but he clearly was no match for Ibaka. Serge made him look bad twice, including an impressive block on a seemly easy two-handed dunk attempt
- Though he only played half the quarter, Westbrook scored the most points (9pts), and lead the game with 17 pts at halftime. Surprisingly, Durant only scored 8 pts by halftime, and only scored 2 pts in the quarter.
- Courtney Lee led the Grizz with 9pts and had the only free throw attempt in the quarter for Memphis.
To the surprise of no one, both teams came out of the locker room ready to play. Zbo finally was able to get some easy baskets and get to the line. Conley continuously attacked the rim, even driving between pairs of defenders. The Thunder was able to counter with long jumpers by Ibaka and Durant's first 3. The Grizzlies continued to do their best to hold onto the lead, but went on a 3 minute dry spell in which the Thunder were able to tie the game at 57 and take a 1 pt lead on a Thabo Sefolosha 3-pt shot.
Now down for the first time in the 2nd half, Marc Gasol decided to take control of the game. He aggressively drove into the lane for a reverse layup and smothered an Ibaka shot attempt, which lead to a Mike Miller 3-pt shot and a Grizzly 6pt lead. With neither team being able to go on a run, the game stayed close in final minutes of the quarter. In the final minute, Durant shot a 3 to cut the lead back to 3, and the Grizzlies were able to keep it some fantastic TA defense to prevent OKC from getting a final shot. The Grizzlies started the fourth quarter with some amazing ball movement and an easy Gasol shot. They then clamped down on defense and forced a 24 sec violation by the Thunder. They padded the lead with three jump shots by Udrih and a 3 by Lee.
With 6 minutes remaining and an 8pt lead, the Grizzlies appeared to be pulling away. Durant and Westbrook had other plans. They scored 14 straight points in a 3 minute span and retained the lead on a Durant fast break dunk resulting from a Randolph turnover.
Just over a min left in the 4th quarter:
Now down by 1, it appeared that Dave Joerger wanted to be stay aggressive and not settle for a long jump shot. For the play, Conley drove to the lane, but missed badly with his floater. Randolph was able to keep the ball alive and get the ball back into Conley's hands. Instead of taking a contested layup inside the paint, he wisely passed the ball to a wide open Mike Miller who hit a big 3 to reclaim the lead. On the Thunder's following possession, Westbrook missed badly on a long 2-pt shot. Conley rebounded the ball and was fouled. For the first all night, the Grizz/Conley splits a pair. 32.8 secs remaining; 3 point game. On the next play, Durant tries to shoot a 3 but loses the ball in the air. Conley is once again fouled and makes both. 18.1 secs remaining;5 point game. Grizz fans are celebrating. Victory is assured. Then......
The Play that won the Game
The Grizzlies stole a game from the Thunder in Oklahoma City! Weeeee! The game was sealed on a beautiful play late in the game after a timeout. Just how did what turned out to be the game-winning play come to be?
With 18 seconds left and a 5 point lead, Tony Allen reflected a pass from Westbrook to Durant that nearly went out of bounds. Westbrook saves the ball and throws it to Kevin Durant. As it is being passed, Gasol tries to swat at the ball but misses. With Gasol now over him, Durant instantly shoots and makes an off-balanced shot and is awarded an "and 1" (which he also makes). After almost turning the ball over on a 5 sec call, Conley heads back to the line and splits another pair. 12 secs remaining; 2 pt game. With no timeouts, Westbrook quickly brings the ball up the court and bricks a 3. The shot ends up in the hands of Perkins, who puts back the shot at the buzzer. The game is tied at 99-99. All momentum is gone. Grizzly fans are devastated.
Notes from the 2nd half:
- Both teams lost players briefly in the 3rd quarter. It looked like Courtney Lee hurt his knee, but was able to play through it. He went to the locker room briefly, but came back in the 4th. Ibaka appeared to have also injured his leg at the end of the quarter, but returned as well.
- I'm not sure what the coaching staff said to Gasol, but whatever it was, I encourage them to keep saying it. The Marc Gasol that came out to play in the 2nd half was super aggressive and if the Grizzlies hope to win this series, that Gasol needs to stick around.
- Speaking of Gasol. He could not get any foul calls despite attacking the basket. If you ask Thunder fans, I'm sure they would say there was not enough calls against the Grizzlies. I don't know if the Grizzlies got some favorable calls, but it sure didn't seem like it.
- Until Mike's 2 misses, the Grizzlies were perfect from the free throw line.
- Udrih scored 8 of his 14 points in this quarter. I doubt we can expect this kind of production every game, but it helps ease the pain of losing Calathes.
- Randolph's first Z-bound came during crunch time. It was from an airball 3 by Conley, who is really struggling from beyond the arc this series. It was still a head's up play that lead to an "and-1".
- Everyone will talk about Durant's shot, but really, the defense before the shot was incredible. Allen barely missed a game ending steal and I don't think you can really fault Gasol for his swat attempt.
- Not that they really needed any more motivation to win this game or the series, but if I was Joerger, I would have told the the players that ESPN and the NBA will show that shot nonstop for the entire playoffs as long as the Thunder are still in it. So let's go win this game in overtime and take care of business at home.
Gasol wins the tip and the Grizzlies instantly go to work. Randolph makes a jumper to give the Grizzlies the lead, and Lee extends it with a floater. After back to back made baskets by Durant and Randolph, Durant hits a 3 to cut the Grizz lead back to 1. With just under a minute remaining, Randolph is blocked by Collision and what proceeds it has to be the strangest possession of the night. The block on Zbo started a fast break opportunity by Durant but ended in him plowing over Conley and missing the shot. No whistles were blown and Conley ended up with the ball (see more in notes). Neither coach was happy.
On the next play, Conley gets the ball stolen by Sefolosha, and Durant is fouled by Gasol on a jump shot. With 35 secs remaining, Gasol has now fouled out of the game, and Durant has a chance to give the Thunder their first lead in overtime. Surprisingly, he only splits the pair to tie the game. The Grizzlies with a 2-for-1 opportunity act quickly. Conley passes the ball to Allen who drives into the paint. Though it appeared to everyone that it was going to be an out of control layup, Allen alertly passes the ball to Randolph for an easy layup and the lead. This proved to be the winning play as Ibaka traveled on the next possession and the Grizzlies were able to make all of their critical free throws to keep the lead. Memphis wins 111-105.
- I'm not sure what the referees were thinking in overtime, but I think fans from both teams have legitimate complaints against them. Before Durant's 3, Gasol was called for a charge where he was clearly hit and pushed by Ibaka. On Durant's fast break, it looked like a charge by Durant but no call was made. As everyone was trying to recover the rebound from the missed shot, Gasol clearly kicked the ball to Conley.
- Congrats to Dave Joerger for his first post-season win as a head coach
- Congrats to Mike Miller for his first ever playoff win as a Grizzly.
- I thought the key to this series was to try and make the OKC role players beat you. The Thunder's bench only had 14 pts.
- Mike Conley had a rough end of the game (probably due to fatigue), but he was awesome. 19 pts and 12 assists. The Thunder better pray he doesn't start knocking down 3's.
- Despite a bad 1st quarter, Zach Randolph had a nice bounce back game (25pts; 6 reb). As long as he is matched up with Perkins, he should get plenty of opportunities to score and get to the line. Miller and Lee have to keep help stretching the floor and Gasol/Koufos/Davis have to help keep Ibaka away from doubling him.
- I would never guarantee that any of the Grizzlies will make their free throws, but if you saw the look on Zbo's face, I knew there was no way he was going to miss those last two.
- After being destroyed in the first game by fast break points, the Grizzlies transition defense showed up in Game 2. The Thunder only scored 16 fast break points.(8 in each half)
- The Grizzlies tried and mostly succeeded in keeping the Thunder out of the paint. They outscored them 56 to 36 in points in the paint. Ibaka and Westbrook hit some nice jump shots, but I think the Grizz coaching staff will live with Westbrook attempting jumpers instead of layups.