(AP) Grizzlies drop Thunder 99-93, even series at 1-1
By JEFF LATZKE
AP Sports Writer
Mike Conley scored 26 points, Marc Gasol added 24 points and the Memphis Grizzlies used a late run to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 99-93 on Tuesday and even the Western Conference semifinals at one game.
Conley hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 1:58 left to put the Grizzlies ahead to stay and spark a string of 10 straight points for the Grizzlies.
He added an 18-foot jumper to stretch the lead to 94-90, then hit one of two free throws with 29.4 seconds left.
After hitting the key baskets in Game 1, Kevin Durant couldn’t provide an answer for the Thunder. He missed his last three shots, including a pair of 3-point attempts, and finished with 36 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
The Thunder caught a break when Tony Allen tipped the ball away and Conley saved it from going out of bounds, only for it to end up in Durant’s hands in the corner. But Durant was off-target on a 3-pointer, and Oklahoma City was forced to foul.
Zach Randolph tacked on two free throws, and Allen then stole the ball from Durant and provided the finishing touches with a dunk. Derek Fisher hit a 3-pointer at the final buzzer for Oklahoma City.
Game 3 is Saturday in Memphis.
Neither team led by more than seven in a game destined to come down to the wire.
Durant put the Thunder ahead 88-86 with a three-point play off a leaner along the lane, only for Gasol to answer right back with a three-point play.
Kendrick Perkins provided Oklahoma City its last lead with two free throws with 2:41 to play, and the Thunder wouldn’t score again on their next five possessions.
The Grizzlies, who had gotten 52 more shots and 24 more offensive rebounds than Oklahoma City in three regular-season meetings, were back to their usual formula after getting neutralized in those areas in the opener.
Memphis piled up a 48-30 scoring advantage in the paint and also outscored Oklahoma City 23-6 in second-chance points and 18-7 on the fast break. The Grizzlies also scored 29 points off 21 turnovers by the Thunder, who had just 10 in Game 1.
Randolph ended up with 15 points and eight rebounds and Allen had 12 points and five steals. Conley added 10 rebounds and nine assists, finishing one shy of a triple-double.
Durant put Oklahoma City up by five after three quarters, crossing over Quincy Pondexter and then driving for a right-handed slam while getting fouled.
He then hit two of three free throws after getting fouled by Darrell Arthur while trying to attempt a half-court shot before the third-quarter buzzer.
But Durant began the fourth quarter on the bench as Memphis put all five of its starters on the floor, then quickly reclaimed the lead with a 9-2 burst finished off by Conley’s transition layup following an Allen steal.
Durant returned and scored 10 of Oklahoma City’s next 12 points, but he couldn’t finish it out.
Fisher had 19 points for the Thunder, making four of five 3-point attempts.
The Thunder found success midway through the second quarter with a smaller lineup _ featuring Durant at power forward _ against Memphis’ All-Star frontcourt tandem, mostly because of a hot stretch from 3-point range.
Oklahoma City made four straight 3s, three of them from Fisher, in a 12-5 push to take a 45-40 lead.
Gasol was able to convert a three-point play and a putback inside against Durant during that stretch, and the Grizzlies surged back ahead after Oklahoma City matched the big lineup with Perkins re-entering.
Pondexter hit a fourth-chance jumper _ after one offensive rebound by Gasol and two by Randolph _ and then hit a 3-pointer in transition during a 7-0 burst that put Memphis ahead. The Grizzlies led 54-51 at halftime.
Notes: Thunder coach Scott Brooks said injured point guard Russell Westbrook will not be able to travel with the team to Memphis for Games 3 and 4 because of the surgery on his right knee that has sidelined him for the rest of the playoffs. Westbrook has been watching home games from a suite at the arena. “He has a competitive fire that not too many people have,” Brooks said. “There’s no question that that’s what makes him a special player, and he brings it every single night. Not being able to do it obviously is challenging for him, but he’s handling it well.” … Tony Wroten made his first appearance of the series late in the first quarter and immediately stole the ball from Fisher in the backcourt for a layup. … Tulsa Shock first-round draft pick Skylar Diggins watched the game from a courtside seat along the baseline.