The Memphis Grizzlies rallied from a 17-point deficit in the first half to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 103-97 in an overtime thriller to take a 3-1 series lead. It was a must-win game for OKC, and they stumbled short of that goal.
For the Thunder, Kevin Durant lead with 27 points and seven boards, and Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson contributed with 17 and 15 points, respectively. Kevin Martin came off the bench and played well, adding 18 points in the effort.
Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley all had 20-plus point games, 23, 23, and 24 respectively. Conley was particularly ridiculous behind the arc in the first half, knocking down his first three attempts from deep.
OKC played first quarter extremely well, taking a 29-18 lead at the end of the first and closing on a 14-2 run. It was the first time in this series that there has been a double-digit lead after the first quarter.
In particularly exciting series of events, a Thunder block led to fast break, that resulted in Reggie Jackson’s pass getting tipped. He then recovered the ball and dished it to Durant who put it up from behind the arc and sank the tre ball.
OKC lead by as many as 17 in the first half, but the Grizzlies clawed back in it to bring the deficit to just eight points, 56-48, at the break.
Memphis scored the first four points in a row in the second half and brought it within four, but OKC responded with an 8-0 run to take over the lead 64-52.
But the Grizzlies would not succumb to hibernation so easily.
They surged back against the Thunder early in the third quarter to make it a two-point game, and the FedEx Forum absolutely came alive, while the Thunder were struggling to find answers for the sudden burst of life from their opponent.
Memphis tied it at 72 with a pair of free throws from Gasol, with under two minutes to play in the third quarter. Nick Collison put the Thunder back on top with a made pair of free throws, but Memphis was on the offensive still.
The game got very close and gritty at the end, and the Grizzlies and Thunder slugged back and forth, re-taking the lead from each other for the majority of the fourth quarter.
Kevin Durant, with 10 seconds left, drove straight to the basket and finger-rolled it in to tie the game at 94-all. Memphis had a chance to win it with six seconds left, but Perkins made a huge defensive play: he prevented Randolph from getting off a good last shot, which sent Game 4 into overtime.
Two years ago in the playoffs, OKC and Memphis went to three overtimes in Game 4, with the Thunder ultimately being the victors. This time, it would be Memphis that won in overtime.
Memphis scored the first four points in OT to take their largest lead of the night, 98-94. OKC responded, but did not have enough in the tank to overtake the Grizzlies for a final time. Throughout this series they have consistently struggled down the stretch, and as a result they find themselves in a 3-1 hole before going back home.
Oklahoma City needs to find a solution to Memphis’ endurance, or they will find themselves bounced from the playoffs much sooner than they anticipated.
Game 5 is slated to take place Wednesday, May 15, at Chesapeake Arena.