Oklahoma City, OK – Kevin Durant capped a big second half with 12 fourth quarter points, and his go-ahead bucket with 11.1 seconds left helped the Thunder rally for a 93-91 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series.
Oklahoma City trailed almost the entire second half and by as many as 12, but Durant brought them back and sent the Chesapeake Energy Arena crowd into a frenzy with his late pull-up bucket to put the Thunder in front.
He made the team's final three baskets and finished with game-highs of 35 points, 15 rebounds and six assists.
Kevin Martin scored 25 points off the bench for the second straight game after he helped the Thunder wrap up their quarterfinal series with the Houston Rockets in six games. Reggie Jackson added 12 in the victory.
Memphis, coming off four straight victories in its quarterfinal series with the Los Angeles Clippers, was paced by double-doubles from Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
Gasol totaled 20 points and 10 rebounds, but committed a crucial turnover late following Durant's go-ahead bucket. Randolph turned in 18 points with 10 boards.
"We had our opportunities, we just didn't execute as well offensively or defensively," said Memphis coach Lionel Hollins. "They got in transition and Durant made some big buckets."
The Grizzlies were in control and led 84-77 following a jumper from Gasol with 6:25 left, but their offense sputtered for the remainder of the game, converting just 1-of-10 from the field.
Durant then knocked down a pair of baskets around a 3-pointer from Derek Fisher and then had a chance to give the Thunder the lead, but misfired on an open jumper with the score knotted at 84-84 with three minutes remaining.
Gasol poured in a pair from the line, and after Durant drained a long jumper, Randolph sank a pair to restore Memphis' two-point edge.
Serge Ibaka had a poor offensive showing for OKC, going just 1-of-10 from the field, and was only able to split a pair from the line after Mike Conley fouled him underneath.
Gasol's soft one-handed floater extended Memphis' lead to three with 1:08 left, but Durant buried a short jumper and after Fisher stripped a driving Conley from behind, he pulled up from 19-feet to give the Thunder their first lead of the fourth quarter.
"They have such a great team defense, I just wanted to get up the floor as quick as possible and find a shot," said Durant. "That was the only shot I could find and by the grace of God, it went in."
Off the timeout, the Grizzlies inbounded to Gasol, who panicked and threw to Conley near halfcourt. The pass was deflected by Thabo Sefolosha and Conley fell out of bounds trying to retain possession, giving the ball back to OKC with 3.5 seconds left.
Jackson then calmly sank a pair from the line to give the Thunder a three- point edge, but then fouled Quincy Pondexter from beyond the arc with 1.6 ticks left.
Pondexter, though, missed the first free throw, and after making the second, intentionally missed the third. The Grizzlies were unable to get the rebound and the Thunder held on.
After a back-and-forth second quarter, the Grizzlies took control in the third by holding the Thunder to just six points seven minutes through the period and built a double-digit lead following a 7-0 run.
Pondexter buried a trio of 3-pointers during the stanza, including a buzzer- beating double-clutched shot from just past midcourt, quelling a Thunder 6-0 spurt and sending Memphis into the fourth with a 73-64 lead.
The contest began as a defensive battle, as neither team shot better than 31 percent in the quarter. The Thunder were especially bad, making just 5-of-23 from the field and trailed 16-14 heading into the second.
Martin provided the spark off the bench, scoring 15 of his points in the second quarter. He converted a pair of three-point plays before he and Jerryd Bayless exchanged 3-pointers to keep the score knotted at 31-31 with 5 1/2 left in the period.
Neither team led by more than four the rest of the half, and the Thunder carried a 47-46 edge into the break following Jackson's runner with 27 seconds left.
These two teams last met in the postseason in 2011, when the Thunder came away with a series victory in seven games ... Conley and Pondexter each scored 13 for Memphis and Bayless chipped in all 10 of his points in the first half ... Durant has score at least 20 points in 33 straight playoff games ... Oklahoma City was 22-for-25 from the free throw line.