Game 6. Close out opportunity at home. The stakes were high, and that was the vibe in the FedEx Forum from the beginning.
The game started with Z-Bo and Kevin Durant made jumpers. Zach and Durant both started 2-3 shooting and were active in getting their shots early. Durant was especially aggressive, no doubt inspired to be more active due to the "Mr. Unreliable" headline from earlier in the day. Durant's increased shooting and Memphis' trademark slow start (29% shooting through 7 minutes) led to an early 6 point OKC lead, with Durant accounting for 10 of the Thunder's first 14 points.
The Thunder were clearly inspired to play through KD and their focus seemed more in tune with the team that earned the 2 seed in the stacked Western Conference. Then, Big Spain began to work. 6 straight points and a Wendigo run got the crowd back alive. Zach and Marc combined to score all of Memphis' first 16 points of the game. OKC dominated the glass in the first quarter 12-7, had more points in the paint and shot better all around (OKC shot 2-2 from the FT line, Memphis 1-4). No surprise, the Thunder had an 8 point lead after the first 12 minutes.
End of the First Quarter- OKC 25, MEM 17. Player of the Quarter- Kevin Durant- 14 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist
The rebounding differential continued to be a story, as the Thunder had a commanding lead in an area that Memphis needs to control in order to be most effective. Oklahoma City was just out-hustling and out-executing the Grizzlies. Then, the Grizzlies' bench began to pay dividends. Ed "Boss" Davis helped to clean the glass, which was much needed, and Mike Miller added some scoring punch with 2 long range bombs.The Grizzlies were having trouble getting the lead down, though, as the Thunder were still up 7 with 5:28 to play in the half.
The Grizzlies' offense was clicking; 11 assists on 15 made baskets will do that for you. The ball movement was crisp and it kept Memphis in the game, despite the continued FT struggles. 3-9 from the "charity" stripe is not a way to win games. Defense is, however, and a Mike Conley strip of Kevin Durant and easy transition lay-up got the Grizzlies to within 5. OKC grew the lead to 12 after 7-0 run that included a Reggie Jackson 3, Serge Ibaka FTs and a Russell Westbrook fast break dunk. The lead got stretched to 17 as OKC continued hot shooting and aggressive play. 2 Z-Bo FT's got it to a 15 point game at the half.
Halftime- OKC 56, MEM 41. Player of the Half- Kevin Durant- 18 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists
Courtney Lee' struggles continued as the second half began; production from him is key for this Grizzlies' offense. Questionable officiating resulted in Coach Joerger getting a technical and the Thunder extending their lead to 20. The Thunder were just outclassing Memphis in almost every aspect, and you could see the Grizzlies were not sure how to get it going. OKC was in the bonus very early due to poor defensive execution by Memphis (8:43 to go), and even though Courtney Lee finally scored Memphis stayed down 20 heading into the quarter's half way point.
James Johnson (??) entered the game and quickly shot (and missed) a three point shot. He also likely terrified Caron Butler and as chants of "Whoop That Trick" rained down on the court Johnson and Butler were both tech'ed up for a minor altercation. The disagreement woke up the Forum, and also James Johnson, who attacked the basket and was the catalyst for a 6-0 run that got Memphis within 17 with 4 minutes to go.
Mike Conley went down after a rough no-call and limped to the locker room hobbling, which of course worried everyone who claims to #BelieveMemphis. The Grizzlies' defense had played better this quarter, but the offense continued to struggle especially without Conley and the Thunder were up 21 heading to the fourth.
End of the Third Quarter- OKC 82, MEM 61. Player of the First 3- Russell Westbrook- 25 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists.
With Mike Conley still badly limping on the bench, the fourth quarter began with rushed and poor decisions. Memphis was allowing OKC to play their game; fast break points and utter domination on the defensive glass made it tough for the Grizzlies to get necessary 2nd chances at scoring the ball. Mike Conley thankfully returned to the game, but how effective he would be remained to be seen. It was clearly evident he was not OK, and Coach Joerger made the likely wise decision to sit Mike the rest of the night.
The Thunder were all over the defensive end of the court; 10 blocks through 44 minutes, +13 defensive rebound advantage and a Grizzlies team that was shooting 37% from the floor. The Grizzlies just did not have it on this night, and give credit where it is due to the Thunder, they played like a team fighting for their lives. Memphis did not, and because of that the series heads to OKC for an all-important Game 7.
Final Score- OKC 104, MEM 84. Player of the Game- Kevin Durant- 36 points, 10 rebounds.