Grizz Grind Step Closer To West Finals

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Some of the new owners of this franchise now treading on historic playoff ground leaned up against the wall outside the Memphis Grizzlies’ locker room. Hair was frazzled, faces were flush and breaths were still coming heavy as if they had just outrun the Boogie Man.

In some respects they had.

Monday’s 103-97 overtime victory over the shorthanded and succumbing Oklahoma City Thunder turned scary from the jump. Kevin Durant set the early tone, animated, vocal and doing his thing. Serge Ibaka suddenly rediscovered his shooting touch, Kevin Martin was hitting and young Reggie Jackson was doing his best Russell Westbrook impression.

The visitors had the bounce and the confidence early. The Grindhouse crowd grew restless, boos came down when Durant buried a 3-pointer, his third without a miss, to put OKC ahead 46-29 with 4:26 until halftime. They’d since seen this horror flick before. Game 4 against these Thunder two years ago was a hot topic at practice the day before. OKC was then the team that trailed by 17 and came back all the way back to win it in triple-overtime to tie the series and eventually win it in Game 7.

Games 1 and 7 at home last season against the Clippers. Series over. Season wiped out.

To not take this Game 4 by the throat, to walk off the floor with tails tucked between their legs in front of a sellout crowd, to drag a 2-2 tie instead of riding a 3-1 lead back to Bricktown would have been a travesty.

“Our whole mindset was get it to 10 by halftime and we got it to eight,” Tony Allen said. “Coach [Lionel Hollins] came in the locker room. He’s good with those speeches. We wanted to respond.”

These Grizzlies, more mature, more clutch than any incarnation before, refused to let it happen. Tayshaun Prince and Allen clamped down on Durant, who missed 17 of his 27 shots, missed all four in overtime and missed his third clutch free throw in the last two games. Mike Conley scored 24 points and for a time matched Durant 3-pointer for 3-pointer. He played 48 minutes, 40 seconds — 21 ticks more than Durant and turned the ball over exactly once.

Then it was big Marc Gasol, with 23 points and 11 boards, swishing the game-winning jumper from the foul line. Then it was Allen, the original grit-and-grinder who was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team earlier Monday, making the game-sealing steal. It was his 10th of the series, this one on Derek Fisher‘s crossed-up inbounds pass.

“How do you like this ownership thing now?” one of the new guys was asked as he wiped his brow.

“It’s a lot more fun when you win,” he said.

Inside the Grizzlies’ locker room, the emotion wasn’t exuberance, but sheer relief.

“We’re not done yet,” said Zach Randolph, who rebounded from a tough Game 3 for 23 points and 12 rebounds. “We’re not done yet.”

The Grizzlies can close this series out in Game 5 on Wednesday night back at Oklahoma City. It won’t be easy. All four games have been up for grabs in the final three minutes of regulation. None have been won by more than six points. But a win on Wednesday — or in any of the next three games — will send Memphis to the Western Conference finals for the first time in the franchise’s 18-year history, the first six spent in Vancouver and without a postseason appearance.

A first playoff series win didn’t come until 2010. Here they are at the doorstep of a franchise-first on what has been a strange season. The coach, Hollins, the man who made it known that champagne tastes can’t be had on a beer budget, still doesn’t have a contract for next season. The new management team busted up his bench in one mid-season trade and then sent away his leading scorer Rudy Gay for the declining Prince and a couple of bodies that Hollins has no intention of putting on the floor in playoff situations.

“I said all along we are a team that just plays hard and doesn’t quit,” Hollins said. “We scratch. We claw. They say grit-and-grind. I don’t know what that means, but we go out and just battle. We just compete. We’re not the most talented team that’s in the playoffs when we started out and we’re not the  most talented team that’s left in the playoffs, but we go and compete.”

The Thunder fall into the same category. Without Westbrook (and, remember, no James Harden), OKC is pushing Memphis to the max. But after a Game 1 victory, it can’t gain the upperhand down the stretch. Durant, trying to do everything but cook the team meals, looked like fatigued prize fighter when he took the podium to discuss the game.

In the fourth quarters and one overtime of the two losses at Memphis, Durant, the Game 1 hero, is 3-for-17 from the floor, 0-for-2 from beyond the arc and 1-for-4 from the free-throw line. A make here or there, a late defensive rebound a turnover the other way in any of the last three and maybe this series is completely flipped.

Barring a tremendous three-game run, OKC’s season — once bound for a Finals rematch against the Heat — is headed for a premature ending. A quicker-than-expected end partially due to an injury to Westbrook, whose fist pounding the scorer’s table after Rockets guard Patrick Beverley careened into his knee that night will be an enduring image.

“We’re playing hard every day. It’s just not going our way,” Durant said. “We just have to get ready for Game 5. It’s at home, so it should be exciting. I’m looking forward to it.”

65 Comments

  1. Ron says:

    I have no idea who will win the series. Let’s just watc the games and let’s the basketball players decide and do the talking afterwards..

  2. This series, I think, is over tonite. If not, it will be in game 6 on friday. KD35 is doing everything he can, and he got a little help in game 4 and that still wasn’t enough. Once Westbrook gets back healthy and playing at an elite level, that’s when the Thunder will be back to championship contenders.

  3. Bradles says:

    DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-FENCE! Grizzlies take the west. I am not a Grizzlies fan but you gotta love the solidity and team play. Guys in positions and playing them to the full. Haven’t seen it since the 2004 Pistons. Really inspiring watching them bring it. Would love to have seen Rose with the Bulls playing the Grizz in the finals…..brutal basketball

  4. Robmiller says:

    OKCKD35 and others are making a lot of excuses. I like Oklahoma City Thunder but Memphis beat them WITH Westbrook this year. Memphis had no Rudy Gay in 2011 against OKC and accepted the outcome, maybe you should do the same. The refs are not perfect and calls go wrong both ways but do not be a homer so much to say that Martin was pushed or Durant was fouled by Randolph, which were pivotal plays at the end of the game. Memphis is better than Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers, just hope they are better than San Antonio and Miami.

  5. Durant seems frustrated 25/40 minutes in these games

  6. memgirl10 says:

    THE GRIZZLIES WOULD BEAT THEM EVEN IF THEY HAD WESTBROOK GRIZZ BEAT THEM TWICE WITH WESTBROOK IN THE REGULAR SEASON THE ONLY TIME THEY WON WAS AFTER THE RUDY GAY TRADE WHEN WE HAD LIKE SEVEN PLAYERS IN UNIFORM SO STOP HATING AND ACCEPT THE FACT THAT THE GRIZZLIES ARE THE BETTER TEAM. GRIZZ NATION STAND UP GO GRIZZLIES

  7. Grizz says:

    GRIZZ VS HEAT . CANT STAND THE HEAT? GRIND IT OUT! LEGGO GRIZZ

  8. TTKIN says:

    As a Laker fan who was tired of the way Fisher got out of contracts even when he was helping my team, I am happy to see him commit 2 major mistakes the last couple games. And ill-advised 3 pt attempt in Game 3, and he threw the game away at the end of this one.

    They got him for his clutch-ness, and instead they got that.

  9. Joshua Speights says:

    OKC is good enough to win without Westbrook, but Durant does need scoring support. Martin should be starting. Perkins should come off the bench and Ibaka should be sent to the bench when he gets into one of his funks. If Westbrook was healthy, no doubt it would be in the favor of OKC. If others step up and score Durant could carry them. Unfortunately it does not look like Durant will get the support. Up 3-1 from an odds standpoint its over for OKC.

  10. Charlie says:

    Dirk, who?

  11. kid says:

    J. Harden is the key why they went to the Finals last season.

  12. OKCKD35 says:

    everyone talks about LeBron with Cleveland, who else was good in the east except boston? I’m sure OKc could reach the finals in the east if they were the only powerhouse In the conference

  13. Argumus says:

    A good offense will get you to the post season, but Defense wins championships. Hence why San Antonio and Indiana are still around. The Lakers had 2 DPOY players but refused to play D all year long and now where are they.

  14. Victor Lebronn says:

    Every team gets a little advantage while playing at home but regardless of where we play Durant always comes forward with his whirlwind move and gets a call even when Prince lifted his arms up so I dont like people writing comments about the calls it will be the same when we play in OKC tomorrow.. we just need to win and win hard….

    People say Memphis cant beat Miami come on give me a break we give Miami all they can take and they never win at the grind house; we kill them in the paint and the last time we played them Randolph spent more time in the bench due to fouls and we just lost the game in the last 3 minutes but this is one game out of 5 won by Miami so we have the winners edge…. also no other team has the defense style we have; Miami is not great this team is overrated; for once they play in the east not the west so their record is questionable compared to the west teams which have more competition.’

    You just sit back and relax and enjoy the grit and grind until we get to the finals

    • LEBL1213 says:

      Would love to see it but it ain’t happening. Miami v Memphis sounds great but you realize that LeFlop James has every NBA official in his hip pocket. He will take a few shifts on Z-Bo and after a couple flops Z-Bo will spend the entire series in foul trouble. Same with Tony Allen. You might salivate at the thought of TA guarding LeFlop but it won’t matter because he will be in foul trouble too. Miami ALWAYS gets the calls. Always.

      That’s not the only problem for Grizz. Why is this so tough? The Thunder are a lottery borderline D-League team after Durant and all four series have been in doubt in the last 3 minutes. Grizz go into scoring funks in every game that will be deadly against Heat. Grizz should be hoping for a GSW matchup. They’ll have no answer for the bigs.

  15. OKCALLDAY says:

    Dude you can’t compare KD to Lebron in Cleveland. It’s like previous posts said Lebron was in the east where there was hardly any competition. On top of that, Lebron didn’t get used to having a star teammate then having to play without him in the playoffs because if that would have been the case he would’ve lost for sure… KD just now has to learnw hat to do without him so its a very different scenario..

  16. mehrdad says:

    I believe OKC return back.
    I love Scott Brooks!!!

  17. aBaller says:

    watching this years playoffs with a lot of teams not healthy and with all the comments of Durant missing westbrock, LeBron with Cleveland, that reminds me how special has been Dallas winning it all in 2011. Dirk playing without any superstar sidekick year after year after year…….

    and not getting the respect he deserves…….

    Memphis Would be a wall to big to climb for this Thunder squat……

    • Game Time says:

      I give Dirk credit for sticking with Dallas and taking less, but he is lucky to have a (somewhat) smart owner who cares about winning and wanted to build a championship team, and knows basketball. When you talk about Lebron in Cleveland you can see he wasn’t going to ever win there with Dan Gilbert as the owner. People knock James for having Wade, but Wade hasn’t even been close to his 2006 self, so what’s the big deal?

  18. Sandy says:

    GREAT game Grizzlies. Send the Thunder fishing!!!!!!

  19. Next year, Lamb+PJ3, Liggins, and Orton need PT says:

    Once they get on the same page as Durant this team will be a nightmare. Lamb and PJ3 could be playing playoff

    games like Harrison Barnes and giving OkC an extra 10-20ppg, but instead they’re wasting away behind Fisher, K-Mart,

    and Perkins and Thabo who have zero offensive skill

    OKC has the weapons, but they need to use them. This is why Golden state is making noise and getting effort from

    the entire bench, and teams like Chicago and OKC are afraid of youth, and losing. They have the talent, and you need

    them. PLAY THEM

    • alp says:

      thabo is making me furious in this series… everybody is all on ibaka and k mart( who really hasn’t been playing well the entire second half of the season) but last night they both played well and the thunder STILL lost. Reggie jackson is out of control on too many plays, refuses to give durant the ball when he is in the flow. however reggie jackson does make plays from every now and then but he has to know his personel. thabo sefolosha who is KNOWN for his defensive prowess for some reason can’t even D an average PG like mike conley, which is strange and on top of that the only thing he can do on offensive(3pt shooting) to some extent, isn’t even working because he is missing a CRAZY amount of open shots.. i feel like HE was the x factor last game, because everybody on okc was doing their thing except him. conley was STILL giving him buckets late in the game and he was STILL bricking 3′s. this MUST change.

  20. tanibanana says:

    People were saying then if Wesbrook feeds his team mates they would have been a better team.
    Now that the ball is their’s to take, they’re throwing bricks..

  21. Bill says:

    Marc Gasol, Defensive Player of the year, it is not named to the nba all-defensive first team?

    • OKCKD35 says:

      because DPOY is voted by the Media! go figure…… Defensive team is voted on by the coaches. Kind of like Blake Griffin winning the Slam Dunk Contest. He dunked over a Kia, the media ate it up and gave him the win. Same Reason Rose won the MVP 3 years ago.

      • Robmiller says:

        I am sure OKCKD35 will blame the refs for Kevin Durant not being named Defensive Player Of the Year because according to him/her, the refs are responsible for Memphis being up 3-1, instead of the Memphis Grizzlies defense. Crybaby, please stop whining.

  22. xSTNG says:

    Memphis is good and all. But i cant see them beating Heat. But their the only healthy team that could try.

  23. Fuuu says:

    I really think if westbrook was healthy, the memphis would stil reach the Conf finals. The injury doesnt take any merit to them

    Memphis to the Title!!! maybe them NBA starts to give credit to skilled european centers and start looking skill in their center youth, i am tired and i think is a shame of all the over athetic and dumb center!

    There is a reason Duncan and Garnet look like All-Star. This generation Big Men is all muscle no brain

    • OKCKD35 says:

      if Westbrook was healthy this would have been a sweep for OKC, every game has been close without the best PG In the game. you think these would have been 1 possession games with less than 1 minute left if RW played the entire game, Memphis needs to send Beverley a thank you card.

      • Grizz says:

        You are an idiot. CP3 is the best PG by far. QUIT COMPLAINING ABOUT WESTBROOK NOT PLAYING! #GnG #BelieveMemphis IF OKC HAD WESTBROOK WE WOULD STILL BEAT THEM. All he does is SHOOT and he can still BARLEY do that.

  24. W/E says:

    Players should really be judgent from their playoff performance where it really counts, Perkins- the guy doesnt have the minimum bball skills even for the D-leage standards,Ibaka would have a good career in the D-league, he would still need to improve his scoring ability though,martin – shefalosha playoff role players, rest of the team all bench players, at least Durant is forced to test his all around skills it will do good to him he should try to improve his all around game and come back better next year. RIP OKC

  25. theholyspecatator says:

    do people not recall when lebron in cleveland took the cavs to the finals? tho they got whooped by the spurs still…man did it on his own, and on top of that lebron been doin it year after year in cleveland, he didnt have another superstar on his team, durant claims he doesnt like being “2nd” well this was your shot durant and you couldnt do it…shows u hes not that big of a superstar..its easy when you play with a guy like westbrook, this just shows us that durant is just not their yet..only good thing is hes still a young player so he still can get to that elite level but at this point i cant consider him an elite player..u see melo doin it on the knicks, we saw lebron do it for years.. KD got a lot of learning to do to be an elite…and a side note when people were mad at lebron for joinin dwade and bosh, uhm…thats how you win a title people! ya lebron didnt leave cleveland in the best way bust still, you cant hate on em…you cant do it on your own, its a team sport unless your that freakin good..MJ had his guys, as did KOBE, and now does lebron, teams like bulls with rose and okc with KD they need to have their superstar partner along side and then some really skilled role players otherwise you wont get that trophy..

    • OKCKD35 says:

      you sir make no sense, 1st off KD is accounting for a higher % of his teams points than anyone in NBA playoffs history. 2nd Lebron plays in the EAst, yes he got to the finals but who did he really have to beat? once he faced the West he lost EVERY YEAR as a CAV. Melo has been doing it? Doing What losing in the 1st round 8 of his 10 years in the league? KD has played half the time Melo has and probably has more playoff games under his belt lol. Watch some basketball, use some logic. then next time make an educated post.

      • One of the king's subjects says:

        You sir make no sense, 1st how can KD (who avgs 28 ppg in the playoffs for his career) has the highest % of his team points in nba playoff history, when a guy named Russel Westbrook is avg 23 ppg. Now when Lebron was in Cleveland I don’t remember anyone else averaging 20+ points in the playoffs, Wade didn’t have anyone avg 20+ points, Howard didn’t have anyone avg 20+ points you get the point. 2nd Have you not heard about the Detriot Pistons, practically the Bad Boys pt II, in East the wizards were a team that put up fights for lebron, and the Nets had Kidd and Carter on one team. Yes the East is not better than the West, but don’t make it sound like that conference is push off. Also KD never got his team to the playoffs in his rookie year like melo did. You should watch basketball and make an educated post.

      • OKCKD35 says:

        research some stats home boy. I am talking about KD in this years playoffs, PPG and APG combined, he is accounting for a higher % of his teams points than anyone in playoff history. More than LBJ more than MJ. and your reasoning for the east not being a pushover is the Wizards? Really? and as for Melo so what his rookie year he made the playoffs, what has he ever done in the playoffs? KD has been in the league half the time of Melo and has made it further than Melo ever has 2 years in a row! speaking of making an educated post, take your own advice!

  26. sirsapito says:

    Hello in my opinion it´s interesting to understand…
    Marc Gasol is the best team center in the leage. He plays for the team, he isn’t spectacular but he is really useful. This is killing OKC because they can’t defend him. His game in the paint help the back court to play wide and free.
    Randolph has improved his game. Now he fights offense to liberate team mates shots and he is the 1st defender to stop fastbreaks.
    Conley is playing hard and smart. He scores with high shoting percentage because he throws open shots.
    The rest of the team are playing their best
    They are stars because they don’t need to be the star.
    So maybe they’ll will the championship

  27. CommonMan says:

    Someone mentioned Thunder is handicap? That is stupid. Durant is just playing the role of Lebron back in Cleveland and have to now carry a whole team behind his back. Let’s see how he handle the pressure Lebron had to carry for his first seven years of his career.

    • Grizz says:

      This right here is my boy. True true

    • alp says:

      NO. that doesn’t apply to this situation because westbrook has never missed a game for okc in his career, he was clearly a HUGE piece to the puzzle and he went out with an injury out of nowhere, nobody saw it coming so all of a sudden this team has to change EVERYTHING because westbrook was the guy who ran the point, ran the plays, gave durant an option, and took the pressure off of durant. Lebron NEVER had a guy like westbrook in all 7 years of cleveland and when he did get a good player on his team like a mo williams or antawn jamison, they never actually played up to their full potential. it’s also very clear at this point durant is handling the pressure very well considering the fact he is averaging 30+ 5+ 5+ in the playoffs and is the leading scorer in the playoffs. he is doing everything he can to will his team to a win, but without a key piece who has been with durant and the thunder since he came into the league… so YES the thunder are handicapped. VERY handicapped.

  28. Tj says:

    Grizzlies are a good team no stars at all

    • Stern H8r says:

      Which is why they better make as good a run as possible. They can’t hope that every year all the stars on other teams get hurt. Grizzlies are as good as they will ever be…that;s not true for the Thunder, Warriors, Nuggets, Knicks, Pacers, Bulls and Heat. Enjoy this year ZBo and Gasol…this is your only shot! I’m pulling for them to put some more pain on the Heat.

      • Robmiller says:

        I am not sure this is the Grizz ONLY shot. The team has gotten better each of the last four years. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are just entering their prime. Zach Randolph and Tony Allen are starting to get older but Randolph is still king of the double-double and Allen was just named first team All NBA Defense. Tony Wroten, Jarod Bayless, and Ed Davis are young and talented and could grab starting spots one day. As far as injuries, the Grizz have dealt with major ones the last two years and I never heard any sympathy for them. Everyone is banged up at this stage. Everyone should just see how much fun the city of Memphis is having with this team, it really makes you love basketball.

      • bo says:

        does anybody remember we had no rudy gay in 2011 and a post-injury zach randolph last year????
        we didnt make excuses

      • Jason says:

        Ummmm… Memphis owned the tie breaker against OKC in the regular season so don’t act like Memphis couldn’t beat OKC w/ Westbrook. I guess they just reached 55 wins because everyother good time had injuries all year eh?

    • NHbleedsGREEN says:

      no stars? I would consider the DPOY a star. Who doesn’t know Ze-bo? Get a clue bruh!

    • Game Time says:

      Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph or Mike Conely goes down and you think this team would still win the same?

  29. overrated says:

    durant will not let it end at home in Game 5… but the Grizzlies are too much for him to overcome on his own. Memphis in 6

  30. overrated says:

    1st

    • Grizz says:

      Thunder lost

      • alp says:

        grizz fans truthfully have no right to talk. they are beating a depleted thunder team thats really actually only one guy. if westbrook was playing conley would have never gone over 20 points in any game this series.. i don’t undertsand why hes getting hyped up when the ONLY reason hes going in is because westbrook isn’t playing… of course a veteran point gaurd is going to school a young pg who up until this years playoffs never started a game in his life… however i respect z bo and marc gasol, they are both really good players, possibly the best frontcourt in the nba

  31. dmac from nz says:

    comparing durant to conley is like comparing the king to nate robinson… Put Prince and Allen on conley and well see how many points he can score!

    • New Yorker says:

      I’m not sure that was a direct comparison. Nobody said Conley is as good as Durant. That said I disagree with people saying Thunder would win if Westbrook was playing. 1st of all, it’s not over yet. 2nd, we have no way to tell how these games would go if Westbrook was there. That can be said about any player. You could argue that the Grizz lost their best scorer in Rudy Gay. What if that helped them? There is no way to tell if they would make it this far with him in the lineup.

      Big props to the Grizz. My favorite team in the play-offs. You have to love team basketball.

      • OKCKD35 says:

        so what you are saying is a player ranked in the top 10 in PPG, SPG, and ASP would not help OKC win these games? 1st off Westbrook is a much better defender than Jackson and would help limit what Conley is doing, not to mention Westbrook is the tempo guy for OKC, you can see when they are able to run they open up all of their shooters and spread the offense. With these games coming down to literally the last minute (games 2-4 were 1 possession games in the last minute) you don’t think Westbrook would translate to victories in OKC, there is a reason they were the 1 seed in the west and now 3-5 without him. rudy gay is a mute point as the trade happened much earlier in the year giving the grizzlies the ability to adapt to playing without Gay, Westbrook has only been gone for 2 weeks, and OKC had NEVER played a game without him in the franchise history. With no lay over between the 1st and 2nd round OKC has had very little time to make adjustments to account for someone who had never missed a game, that being said they are still giving Memphis all they can handle.

      • Lytal21 says:

        Look these 2 teams was 9-9 the past 18 games prior to series start. So with or without Westbrooke the Grizz could still be winning the series.

  32. miniminer says:

    without westbrook its really a handicap

    • OKCKD35 says:

      that game was terrible, Once again OKC is Joey Crawford’ed. Once OKC got out to that big lead the whistle kep blowing in Memphis’ favor. From the 3 pointer foul (called airball by martin) which led to 2 MEM points, to the push over of martin on the baseline as the ball rolls right to z-bo for 2 and the blatant foul on Z-bo with just a few seconds left as Durant was rising for a shot (called a steal and gave MEM free throws to seal the deal. Jst don’t get why Randolph and Gasol are basically allowed to do whatever they want in terms of bodying OKc defenders, yet when OKC touches one of them its a foul. Its disgusting. Say what you want but the officials led that come back last night.

      • Grizz says:

        Your just mad cuz OKC got tapped boy!!! Here we come Western Conf. Finals!!

      • bo says:

        please, crawford GAVE okc that lead with his early bs calls….you don’t get all the call all your way all the time….
        gasol got called for a foul with a big okc arm pulling him down, easily seen on replay. just one call…..

      • alp says:

        when i was watching the game i saw a couple of reckless play by reggie jackson yet again that helped memphis win, but now that you mention it i do recall ALOT of whistles blown in memphis favor, especially in the third quarter.

      • Team Grizz says:

        I guess you didn’t see when in the first half the whistle was being blown in OKC favor, I guess u didn’t see all the fouls that was called on the Grizzles when they hadn’t even touched Durant, no u wouldn’t see that, and as for the ref’s leading to MEM comeback think again.
        Grit Grind all day long all day strong.
        Team Grizz

      • OKCKD35 says:

        funny you grizzlies fans keep saying the fouls on Durant led to OKC opening a lead. Durant took 3 free throws that game! good defense are not blatant fouls that were not called by the worst officiating crew in the NBA (look back on all my posts, hate joey Crawford no matter what game he is officiating) the grizzlies do play solid defense, but the level of physicality should be allowed on both sides. not 10-15 fouls per game called on who ever is defending Randolph (who pretty much fouls every play)