Oklahoma City, OK – Mike Conley was one assist shy of a triple-double and hit a go-ahead 3-pointer down the stretch to lead the Memphis Grizzlies over the Oklahoma City Thunder, 99-93, in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal series.
Conley finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and the emerging point guard provided the 27th lead change with a clutch 3-pointer with 1:58 remaining. The basket was part of the Grizzlies' 10-3 run to end the game and helped even the series at a game apiece heading back to Memphis.
Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph powered a one-sided advantage in the post with 24 and 15 points, respectively, as Memphis scored 20 more points in the paint and held a 23-6 edge in second-chance points.
"We just played our game today. We gutted and grinded it out," Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins said. "We were fortunate to get a win."
Kevin Durant nearly had a triple-double as well, though in a losing cause, totaling 36 points, 11 boards and nine helpers. Derek Fisher followed with 19 points, while key reserve Kevin Martin was limited to six on 2-of-11 shooting after scoring 25 points in each of the last two games.
The tight series takes a few days off before Game 3 tips off Saturday night.
The matchup has all the makings of the conference semis these teams played two years ago, a series won by the Thunder in seven games. Oklahoma City took Game 1 thanks to Durant's go-ahead jumper in the final stages, but down the stretch Tuesday the Thunder went over three minutes without a field goal to lose homecourt advantage in the series.
"I thought we had breakdowns defensively that cost us," Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks said. "They came into our building and got a win. Now we have to go into their building and get a win."
Memphis shook off a slow third quarter, quickly erased a 74-69 deficit entering the fourth and was on top, 86-83, courtesy of a Tony Allen bucket off an offensive rebound.
Serge Ibaka answered with a jumper and Durant backed Jerryd Bayless down to the left block and got a turnaround to fall while being fouled, the free throw giving the Thunder an 88-86 edge with 3:18 to play. The basket wound up being the last for the West's top seed before Fisher's meaningless buzzer-beating three.
With under two minutes remaining, Gasol commanded a double team in the lane and kicked the ball back to Conley for an open 3-pointer and a 92-90 advantage. Durant was long on a 3-point try from the left wing, and the combination of Gasol and Conley struck again, this time with Gasol setting a pick at the top of the key to free up Conley for an 18-footer with 1:04 showing.
Durant turned the ball over and missed from long range on the next two Oklahoma City possessions to end any chance of another come-from-behind win.
The Grizzlies scored 10 points off six Oklahoma City turnovers in the first quarter, but only led 23-21 following Durant's 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
Fisher caught fire in the second quarter. The 38-year-old veteran netted 13 points in the frame, including consecutive corner 3-pointers that gave the Thunder a 39-35 lead near the midway point.
Memphis scored nine of the last 11 points of the half, however, with Conley scooping in a layup to put the visitors in front by a 54-51 margin at the break.
Durant nearly outscored the Grizzlies by himself in the third quarter. The three-time scoring champion matched his first-half total with 13 points, while the Grizzlies were limited to 15 as a whole.
Durant has recorded 20-plus points in 34 consecutive playoff games ... Ibaka was held to 11 points ... Memphis scored 29 points off 21 turnovers ...The Grizzlies only committed 11 turnovers ... Allen logged 12 points, seven rebounds and five steals.