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Ain't Nothing Free, Even in the Mud- OKC Defeats Memphis 92-89 in Overtime

Another night in the Grindhouse, and another battle between the Thunder and the Grizzlies. It was sloppy at times, but in terms of effort and competitiveness it was another classic. Memphis was unable to take advantage of free throws or slow down Reggie Jackson and allowed the Thunder to outwork them on the glass, major reasons why this game went the way of Oklahoma City.

Marc Gasol likely knows the Grizzlies lost this one in the mud tonight.
Marc Gasol likely knows the Grizzlies lost this one in the mud tonight.
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis crowd was fired up for this contest; a weekend day of beautiful weather meant plenty of time on Beale Street to "prepare" for the contest that evening. An already late start went later as OKC and Memphis went into another overtime. This time, Memphis was unable to close.

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First Quarter

The Grizzlies offense went through Marc Gasol early as he scored 8 of the first 12 points of the game. The Thunder had a little bit easier time playing to their strengths, using their length and athleticism to make life tough for Zach Randolph down low and push the pace some. A slow offensive start for the Thunder (38% shooting, 4 turnovers in the first 9 minutes) allowed for Memphis to hang tough despite 4 early turnovers of their own. Tony Allen checked in and chaos ensued, as usual; energy defensively and on the glass picked up considerably.

A Nick Collison corner 3 surprised everyone in the arena not named Nick Collison and the Thunder took the lead for a brief moment until Zach Randolph hit a lay-in to tie it at 15 with 1:48 left. The Grizzlies' defense was stifling the Thunder, not leaving shooters open and intercepting passes. Unfortunately, Memphis was just as sloppy with the ball. 10 turnovers combined in the quarter meant less scoring, and that is just fine with the Grizzlies.

End of First Quarter- Memphis 18, Oklahoma City 15

Second Quarter

The turnover party continued as the second quarter started, with each team losing a possession within the first minute of play. The Thunder bench was much more productive in this first half than they had been in a long time, as their 8 points through 14 minutes of play was just 1 less than what they scored in all of Game 3. Reggie Jackson began taking Beno Udrih to task, driving the lane for 4 points in the paint

Joerger's rotations and the Grizzlies' offense had something in common; they were both disjointed.

Even more rare than a Zach Randolph fast break lately has been James Johnson playing time, and he looked out of sorts early as he had 2 fouls in 2 minutes on the court. Poor shooting continued to rule the day, as the Grizzlies' 32% through 18 minutes was being outgunned by the Thunder's 41%. The Thunder had 4 three point baskets to the Grizzlies' 0 however, and that helped build a 7 point Thunder lead with 4 minutes to go.

Thankfully, the Thunder were so sloppy with the ball that it helped keep the Grizzlies in the game. 12 turnovers through 21 minutes of play negated their assists (9 to 7) and three point shots made advantage to an extent. Poor free throw shooting reared its ugly head for the Grizzlies as they shot 60% for the half from the line. Courtney Lee ended the poor shooting from range for Memphis with a made 3, but Russell Westbrook responded with a 3 of his own. The Grizzlies shot 8-24 in the half in the paint, Grizzlies guards were 5-21 shooting overall and the Thunder were up 7 at the half.

Halftime- Memphis 35, Oklahoma City 42

Third Quarter

The Thunder came out stroking shots in the second half, scoring 8 points in less than 2 minutes to build a double digit lead. Mike Conley continued to struggle with his shot (1-7, 0-3 from 3 point land through 26 minutes) and whenever Conley struggles so mightily, the Grizzlies are likely to as well. Thankfully the Grizzlies' bigs were being productive offensively, as Gasol and Z-Bo combined to score the first 10 of the half for Memphis with Wendigo getting 8 of those 10. Marc Gasol had 21 points and 8 rebounds, and it appeared that Memphis would need Marc to be more of a scorer than perhaps he is comfortable with.

The Grizzlies' offense continued to be in disarray as the Thunder did a good job crowding the paint and throwing off passing lanes. When the ball movement was crisp, the Grizzlies were able to take advantage of open perimeter Courtney Lee shots and cut the lead to 6. The Thunder bench with 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter had outscored the Grizzlies' 24-7, and while the Thunder were 7-8 from the free throw line and Memphis was 6-13. Missed opportunities and poor execution were suffocating the Grizzlies, as was improved play from Reggie Jackson (15 points).

OKC goes on an 8-2 run to end the quarter and OKC lead by 12 heading in to the fourth.

End of the Third Quarter- Memphis 52, Oklahoma City 64

Fourth Quarter

Oklahoma City continued to try and get out on the run, which spells doom more often than not for Memphis. A Beno Udrih three awoke the crowd to an extent, as did and Tony Allen converted and-one opportunity. Reggie Jackson  continued to be effective for the Thunder and was able to hold the Grizzlies advance at bay.

Fortunately for Memphis, a run to get back into the game started thanks to Reggie Jackson. An offensive foul on Jackson led to a 5-0 run for Memphis behind a Beno Udrih 3 and Mike Conley made free throws. A Tony Allen made (albeit ill-advised) driving lay-up into Serge Ibaka cut the OKC lead to 4.

Mike Conley began to awaken as the fourth quarter grinded on; he actively attacked the lane, got to the line and converted some tough looks. Mike Miller hit a LONG range 3 point shot and all of a sudden it was a 1 point game. A Tony Allen lay-up off his own miss, and the game was 74-73 Grizzlies with 3:54 to go.

After a much needed Thunder timeout, great Grizzlies defense and a fast break opportunity kept OKC on their heels and the Grizzlies on the move. Made free throws helped Memphis keep their lead, and a Tony Allen made jumper got Memphis out to a 3 point lead. TA was also huge on the glass as he gathered 13 rebounds.

The Grizzlies gave the Thunder far too many 2nd and 3rd chances on offensive rebounds, but Grit and Grind effort from Mike Conley got the Grizzlies the ball back after diving on the floor. the energy of the crowd and team were synced finally, and this is when the Grizzlies are at their "All heart" best.

When the FedEx Forum is at full strength, it is like 18,124 vs. 5 for the opposition.

The grind of the game finally caught up with the Thunder; their shooting percentage fell to 36% in the fourth quarter, playing right in to Memphis' hands. A Wendigo jumper put the Grizzlies up 80-75 with 1:20 left. As the game closed out, both Zach Randolph and Courtney Lee stayed on the bench as the lineup of Conley/Udrih/Allen/Miller/Gasol led the team back. It was not their night offensively (7-22), and to their credit they supported their teammates and to Joerger's credit he had the fortitude to stick with what was working.

OKC would not go down without a fight, and their own 5-0 run tied the game at 80 with 30.6 to go in the game. Zach Randolph re-entered the game and after a cray sequence of Tony Allen missed lay-ups and Reggie Jackson launching a 3 quarter court shot with 4 seconds left for some reason, the game headed to overtime for the 3rd time in 4 games.

End of Regulation- Memphis 80, Oklahoma City 80

Overtime- AKA The Hunger Games

Overtime began as most Thunder fans would've hoped, with a Durant made basket. His offensive struggles for the series continued, as he was 5-21 after that make from the floor. Mike Miller then hit a huge 3 making the Grizzlies retake the lead. Missed free throws were a continued problem; 2 Miller misses made for 13-23 on the night, or 57%. Meanwhile, Reggie Jackson hit his 2 at the "charity" stripe and the Thunder were up 1 86-85 with 1:45 left.

Mike Conley continued his double double effort on the night with a fall away jumper than gave the Grizzlies the lead. Conley and Allen impacted the game in ways that go beyond scoring the ball; Mike with 10 assists and TA with 13 rebounds (10 offensive!!!!) helped create for others and get extra opportunities to score, which Memphis desperately on this night.

Mike Conley pushed himself to the brink to personify Grit and Grind as he wrestled the ball away from the Thunder after their 20th offensive rebound of the night and called timeout to give Memphis possession with 30.9 seconds left. Mike Conley missed a jumper and the Thunder corralled the rebound. After 2 made free throws that gave Reggie Jackson as many points as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined (30), the Grizzlies had to get 3 to send it to another overtime.

Usually Memphis excels when the game is in "the mud." Tonight, OKC did what it took to come out with the win.

Conley took a lay-up instead as the paint parted like the Red Sea, and once Reggie Jackson hit 2 more FTs the game would come down to a made 3. Mike Conley missed his opportunity, and the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 92-89 in overtime.

Despite 21 OKC turnovers and 37% shooting from the Thunder, Memphis lost their home court advantage and now must find a way to take another game in Oklahoma City in order to win this series. The Grizzlies will no doubt look to the rebound differential (58-49) and free throw misses (13-23, 57%) as reasons for the loss, as well as the performance of Reggie Jackson (32 points on 11-17 shooting, 8-8 from the FT line, 9 rebounds.)

On to the next one. See you Tuesday.

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