Kevin Durant scored 12 of his 35 points in the final 7:20 of the game as the Oklahoma City Thunder came back to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 93-91 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Marc Gasol made a baseline shot over Kendrick Perkins with 1:07 left to give Memphis a 90-87 lead.
Durant made a driving pull-up jump shot on the Thunder’s next possession and then a steal when Memphis got the ball back.
The Thunder didn’t call timeout after Durant’s steal and he came down the floor and pulled up for a 19-foot jumper in transition to give OKC a 91-90 lead with 11 seconds left.
The comeback almost looked like it might be wasted when Reggie Jackson fouled Quincy Pondexter on a three-point attempt with one second left and the Thunder leading by three but Pondexter would miss the first free throw attempt, allowing the Thunder to hold on.
Durant added 15 rebounds (all defensive), six assists and two blocks to his 35 points. He shot 13-for-26 from the field and went 9-for-10 from the free throw line.
The Thunder received a big lift from Kevin Martin off the bench. Martin scored 25 points for the second consecutive game, shooting 8-for-14 from the field in 32 minutes.
Gasol and Zach Randolph combined for 38 points and 20 rebounds to lead the Grizzlies. Overall, the Thunder did a decent job containing the two Memphis bigs.
Both teams got out to really slow shooting starts as Memphis led Oklahoma City 16-14 after the first quarter. The teams got warmed up though in the second where OKC outscored the Grizzlies 33-30.
Both teams did an excellent job holding on to the ball. The Thunder turned it over just 10 times while Memphis just 11 times, but two of those came in the final 17 seconds.
The Thunder would outscore the Grizzlies 29-18 in the fourth quarter. Durant played the entire second half and completely took over down the stretch.
The Thunder needed this Game 1 win. They wouldn’t have wanted to waste such a great performance by Martin and some more clutch three-point shooting by Derek Fisher (2-for-2 in the fourth). Serge Ibaka really struggled offensively however shooting just 1-for-10 from the field and missing a big free throw with 1:21 left in the game.
The Thunder can still get better but so can the Grizzlies. This series really feels like every game will be close as both teams played great defense and neither offense seems to have enough fire power to run away from the other team.
Game 2 will be Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. CST in OKC and will be on TNT.