Published May 14, 2013
| Sports Network
Memphis, TN – The Memphis Grizzlies inched closer to a franchise first as they came back and defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in overtime of Game 4, 103-97, to take control of this Western Conference semifinal.
Mike Conley scored a team-high 24 points while Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol chipped in 23 apiece to go with 12 and 11 rebounds, respectively, for Memphis, which has gone 19-1 at FedExForum the past three months, including a perfect 5-0 mark in the postseason.
Two years ago, the Grizzlies blew an 18-point lead against the Thunder in Game 4 of the West semis and wound up falling in triple-overtime to squander a 2-1 lead in a series they eventually lost in seven games.
This time, however, Memphis came away with a 3-1 advantage by rallying from 17 points down to put itself on the brink of its first appearance in a conference final.
"We were able to overcome a lot," Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins said. "We just kept battling through and got a win."
Oklahoma City had five players score in double figures for the first time all series but shot just 33 percent from the field after the break, including a 1- for-8 effort in overtime.
Kevin Durant was limited down the stretch but still finished with 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists to lead the Thunder, who received 18 points from Kevin Martin and a double-double from Serge Ibaka.
Oklahoma City, the West's top seed and defending conference champs, will host Game 5 on Wednesday.
"Our challenge is not impossible. We have a great opportunity to get back to our home court," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said.
The tight series was fittingly tied, 76-76, entering the fourth and neither team led by more than five over the final 12 minutes of regulation.
Late free throw shooting played a part in the outcome of Game 3, and the same rang true Monday. Conley made two from the line for a 90-89 lead with 2:45 remaining, and Ibaka answered with a pair of his own at the other end.
Conley got a runner to fall driving down the right lane, and Durant, a career 88-percent free throw shooter who missed two key freebies on Saturday, split a pair at the other end to tie it.
Memphis extended its next possession with two offensive rebounds, and Randolph ended up at the line and made 1-of-2 with 55.6 seconds to go. After Randolph stripped Durant at the left elbow, Conley chased down his own rebound and the Thunder were forced to foul with 10.9 ticks on the clock.
Gasol helped Oklahoma City's cause by missing the first and making the second for a 94-92 Memphis lead that didn't last long. The Grizzlies had been 20- of-21 at the line prior to Randolph and Gasol each splitting their trips.
Durant, who had missed seven of his previous eight shots, blew by defensive stalwart Tony Allen at the top of the key, and his tying finger roll nearly spun out before falling through with 6.4 seconds to go.
Randolph got the ball coming out of a timeout and was blocked by Kendrick Perkins on a mid-range jumper as the buzzer sounded, but the Grizzlies dominated the extra session.
An Allen layup and Randolph putback gave the Grizzlies a 98-94 lead, and after Derek Fisher drained a 3-pointer for Oklahoma City's only points in OT with under two minutes left, the Thunder missed their final three shots and committed two turnovers.
Gasol, the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, drew a charge on a driving Reggie Jackson, then hit a foul-line jumper over Perkins with 22.8 seconds left for a 100-97 Grizzlies advantage. Allen stole the ensuing inbounds pass from Fisher, and the Grizzlies made enough free throws to seal the comeback victory.
Ibaka had a quiet first three games of the series but scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds in a first quarter that ended with the Thunder scoring the final seven points en route to a 29-18 advantage.
Oklahoma City shot 56 percent from the field in the opening frame and continued connecting at a high clip in the second. The lead reached its peak when Durant capped a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer to put the Thunder on top by a 46-29 margin with under 4 1/2 minutes left in the half.
Hollins called timeout at that point, and Memphis scored the next six points before cutting its deficit to 56-48 at halftime on Jerryd Bayless' late 3- pointer.
The Thunder's lead grew to a dozen early in the third, but the Grizzlies kept chipping away and eventually went ahead for the first time since midway through the first quarter with a 13-2 run. Gasol netted six points on the surge, and Darrell Arthur sank an 18-footer for a 76-74 Memphis lead in the final minute.
Teams with 3-1 advantages in seven-game NBA playoff series have won the series 94.1 percent of the time (48-3) ... Durant has scored 20-plus points in 36 consecutive playoff games ... Ibaka logged 17 points and a game-high 14 rebounds ... Jackson totaled 15 points and eight assists ... The Thunder scored all 12 of the game's fastbreak points, but were outscored in points in the paint (44-30) and second-chance points (21-10) ... There were 13 lead changes, upping the series total to 62.