Durant scores 36 as Thunder beat Grizzlies 101-94
OKLAHOMA CITY – Kevin Durant scored 36 points and hit the tiebreaking 3-pointer in the final minute to lift the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 101-94 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night in a rematch of their epic Western Conference playoff series.
Durant scored the final seven points of the game after Memphis had pulled even at 94 on Mike Conley's 3-pointer from the right side with 1:12 remaining.
Durant pulled up in front of Rudy Gay to answer with a 3 from the right wing and added a jumper from the foul line to push the lead to five. He closed it out by grabbing the rebound on O.J. Mayo's 3-point attempt and hitting two free throws after getting fouled.
James Harden scored 10 of his 24 points during Oklahoma City's fourth-quarter rally.
Marc Gasol led Memphis with 24 points and Gay scored 23.
That duo and Durant all played the entire second half in a thrilling renewal of the Western semifinals won by Oklahoma City last year in seven games. That series included a triple-overtime classic and another game that went to one overtime.
The Thunder won twice in Memphis this season by a total of eight points, but it was the Grizzlies that were in control most of the way in this one.
Harden engineered a comeback from a 10-point deficit late in the third quarter. He hit two 3-pointers and drove for two layups during a 15-4 burst to start the fourth quarter for the Thunder. His drive set up Nick Collison for the go-ahead free throw, and Daequan Cook followed with a jumper from the right side for an 84-81 lead.
The Grizzlies had an answer and were able to claw back and tie it — only for Durant to deliver the knockout punch.
Russell Westbrook added 21 points and seven assists for the NBA-leading Thunder, who are the only team other than Chicago to score at least 100 points on Memphis this season. Oklahoma City has done it twice and the Bulls once.
It was the only stop at home for the Thunder during a 19-day span featuring eight out of nine on the road.
Tony Allen had 17 points and O.J. Mayo scored 13 for the Grizzlies, who are also in the midst of playing nine of 12 away from home.
After the Thunder had trimmed an 11-point deficit down to one, Memphis pulled away again with a 10-2 run that started when Gay tipped in Dante Cunningham's miss. Cunningham sneaked up from behind Durant for a steal in the backcourt to set up Gay's 3-pointer during the run, and Conley followed with a jumper to make it 66-57 with 5:13 left in the third.
Gasol's two free throws in the final minute of the third quarter briefly bumped the lead up to 10 before Harden ignited Oklahoma City's comeback.
Memphis used a couple of bizarre steals to fuel a 9-0 run late in the first quarter. Conley came up with a pass that went through Serge Ibaka's legs and it ended up leading to Gay's two-handed putback dunk on a fast break. On the next trip, Ibaka stepped in the way of a Westbrook pass. Cunningham grabbed the loose ball and fed Mayo for a right-handed transition dunk to make it 23-17 Memphis.
The Grizzlies let Oklahoma City score the next six points to tie it, then put together a 15-4 run bridging the first quarter break that featured nine points by Mayo. Allen's fast-break layup, which came after Harden flopped on a 3-pointer without drawing a foul, pushed the Memphis edge to 38-27 with 8:29 left before halftime.
Harden hit a pair of 3-pointers during an 8-0 comeback for the Thunder, and Oklahoma City got within two points three separate times before settling for a 50-44 deficit at halftime.
NOTES: Kendrick Perkins picked up his NBA-leading ninth technical foul of the season with 5:02 left in the first half when he and Gasol got tangled up battling for rebounding position on a 3-pointer that Harden made. Perkins faces a one-game suspension if he gets to 13. The scuffle resulted in Gasol's third technical of the season, all against the Thunder and the second time as part of a double-technical foul tangle with Perkins. ... Westbrook also got his fifth technical for spiking the ball after Allen blocked his shot about two minutes earlier.