Griz squeezed from the start
Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 6:12 pm
By: By JEFF LATZKE, AP Sports Writer
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Zach Randolph had his way with the Oklahoma City Thunder to get the Memphis Grizzlies a victory in Game 1.
Game 2 was different from the very start.
Randolph’s first shot got swatted by Serge Ibaka.
His next two jumpers didn’t find their target. Soon, the Thunder had the lead and never gave it back.
Kevin Durant scored 26 points and Oklahoma City clamped down on Randolph and frontcourt partner Marc Gasol to beat the Grizzlies 111-102 Tuesday night to even the Western Conference semifinals.
“We did a great job of starting the game out with some big-time intensity,” Durant said. “Everybody was physical.
“There was a lot of pushing and grabbing and holding from both teams, but that’s the kind of game you like in the playoffs.”
Randolph and Gasol combined for 54 points in Game 1, but barely managed half of that in the rematch.
Randolph made just two of 13 shots and finished with 15 points and nine rebounds. Gasol was 3-for-9 and had 13 points and 10 boards.
“They attacked us and they were determined that they weren’t going to let Marc and Zach beat them,” Grizzlies forward Sam Young said. “They came out and every time Zach got the ball, they put so much pressure on them and contained him.
“Every time Marc got the ball, they made sure to bump him and pounded him and pounded him and it paid off.”
Game 3 is Saturday night in Memphis.
James Harden scored 21 points and fellow reserve Eric Maynor added 15 as Oklahoma City’s bench held a 48-29 scoring edge. All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook scored 24.
Mike Conley scored 24 for Memphis, which got within six in the final minute after trailing 97-76 with 6? minutes left in the fourth quarter.
“It was a classic desperate team, more aggressive team,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “I say the desperate team usually wins, and they were the desperate team in their play, which was a sense of urgency and aggressiveness.
“They came out and attacked.”
Randolph, facing frequent double teams and even a triple team early on, never really got going.
He and Gasol were a combined 7-for-7 in the first quarter of Game 1, but made just one of seven attempts this time while Oklahoma City got out to a 28-17 lead after the first quarter.
The Thunder would never trail after the opening 7 minutes.
“The first game, he really got it going early. It’s tough when he’s feeling good and he’s got the jump shot and his inside game,” Nick Collison said.
“Give the guys credit that started on him because he didn’t really get it going early. He’s much tougher to guard after he hits a few jump shots.”
Memphis got within three in the second quarter before Oklahoma City extended its lead to 10 by halftime.
The Thunder finally shook free with an 18-6 run by the bench, featuring three 3-pointers by Maynor and seven points from Harden, to start the fourth quarter.
Harden hit three free throws — including one after Darrell Arthur was called for a technical for bumping him in retaliation — then turned a steal into a fast-break layup.
Maynor’s third 3 gave Oklahoma City its first 20-point lead at 94-74 with 7:27 remaining, and Daequan Cook followed about a minute later with another 3 to bump the lead to 21.
The Thunder made their first four 3-pointers to start the fourth.
When Maynor and Cook finally were pulled in favor of Durant and Westbrook with just under 5 minutes left, the pair got a standing ovation.
After scoring just 16 points in Game 1, the Thunder’s bench tripled that amount in Game 2.
“That’s what they’ve done all year, and that’s why we are in this position, because they’ve done either a good job of catching up or extending leads,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “I thought they were outstanding tonight.”
Conley hit two 3-pointers and converted a three-point play during a 19-5 comeback that got Memphis within 104-98 with 46 seconds left, before Westbrook and Collison made a pair of free throws apiece to close it out.
The Thunder lost Ibaka, their starting power forward who blocked the most shots in the NBA in the regular season, to an apparent right knee injury with 2:09 remaining in the game. He hobbled to the locker room after fouling Conley and crashing to the floor along the baseline.
Ibaka had been late out of the locker room at halftime after hurting his knee late in the first half, but rode a stationary bike in a tunnel before returning to the game in the third.
“When I was in the game, I was fine,” said Ibaka, who had both ice on both knees in the locker room. “After a timeout, when I would stand up to go on the court, that’s when I would feel it.”
“We’ve got three days off,” he added, “so I hope to be OK.”
NOTES: The Grizzlies’ first offensive rebound didn’t come until Gasol grabbed one with 24 seconds left in the first quarter, with his team down 11. … After the Thunder had lost at home in Game 1, Durant watched Monday night as Chicago and the Los Angeles Lakers followed suit but didn’t make too much of the developing trend. “I was just worried about us and how we could get better,” Durant said. … A fan, Roman Owen, hit a halfcourt shot in the break following the third quarter to win $20,000.