OKLAHOMA CITY — What did a deflated Quincy Pondexter do to shake off a crucial missed free throw with 1.6 seconds left in Sunday’s Game 1 followed by an endless barrage of R-rated — and downright shameful — Twitter criticism that followed?
He went out to dinner with teammates and saw Iron Man 3, rated PG-13.
“I was telling him we’re built for this situation,” Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley said after Monday’s practice. “We’re built to handle the negative, we’re built to handle the positive and I think he should be proud of how he played and all the effort he’s given us. Because I’d much rather have him in the game than sitting on the bench.”
Pondexter has had a productive postseason with four double-digit scoring games in the last five. He was set up to be the unsung hero of Sunday’s eventual 93-91 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second-round series opener. He already had 12 points and three 3-pointers, including a halfcourt heave to end the third quarter that put a temporary stop to the momentum shift that favored the Thunder.
But with 1.6 seconds left in the game and OKC leading 93-90, Pondexter, positioned at the left wing beyond the arc, got the ball and went up with the potential game-tying shot only to be inexplicably swiped on the arm by young Thunder guard Reggie Jackson. The third-year Grizzlies forward went to the line for three free throws.
He missed the first, effectively ending the game. After it he took to Twitter to take responsibility:
But that didn’t stop the immediate and vitriolic knee-jerk tweets that piled upon Pondexter and ignored the numerous opportunities the Grizzlies lost, including Conley being stripped from behind by Derek Fisher with 20 seconds to go and Marc Gasol‘s errant pass with less than five seconds to go.
“It’s part of the job,” Pondexter said after Monday’s practice on the Thunder’s home floor. “I just use it as motivation. It’s not the first time people have told me stuff like that it won’t be the last probably. You just got to take it all in stride and move on from it, and I’m going to be a lot better person and player from it.”
Pondexter even retweeted some of the nastier comments.
“I probably just retweeted because I was angry at the time. It was a tough situation,” Pondexter said. “Just to say, ‘You know what, I’m taking it all in stride.’ I probably think the same about myself of what those people were thinking.”
Athletes must have short memories no matter how difficult social media might make that these days. Pondexter said he’s ready for Game 2 on Tuesday night when the Grizzlies will try to even the series before heading back to Memphis for Games 3 and 4.
“People will remember the end of the game. I know I remember the end of it; I won’t forget it for the rest of my life,” Pondexter said. “I’m a tough kid, man. I’m as tough as any kid, and no matter what, nothing like that is going to ever break me down. So I’m looking forward to getting back on the court and if I get another pressure situation like that again, I’m going to knock it down.”