Thunder beat Grizzlies, force Game 7
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Forward Kevin Durant matched his series high with 36 points, and the Oklahoma City Thunder staved off playoff elimination Thursday night with a 104-84 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum.
The Thunder, the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, evened the first-round series at three games apiece. Game 7 will be played Saturday in Oklahoma City.
The previous four games in the series went into overtime, with Memphis winning three of them.
Thunder guard Russell Westbrook scored 25 points Thursday, and guard Reggie Jackson contributed 16. Durant grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Grizzlies trailed by as many as 22 points. Oklahoma City led by 15 points at halftime, and Memphis never got closer than that margin in the second half.
Center Marc Gasol led Memphis with 17 points, and power forward Zach Randolph had 16 points and eight rebounds. Forward James Johnson added 15 points off the bench, and guard Tony Allen scored 13. Mitchell native Mike Miller had seven points, three rebounds and an assist in 24 minutes off the bench.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks inserted guard Caron Butler into the starting lineup in place of Thabo Sefolosha, and Brooks stayed with a smaller lineup much of the game. Oklahoma City shot 49.3 percent (37-for-75) from the floor, with Durant hitting 11 of 23 shots. Westbrook shot 9-for-21.
Durant went 14-for-15 at the free-throw line, and Oklahoma City finished 23-for-25 (92 percent).
The Thunder outrebounded Memphis 47-36. The Grizzlies shot 37.3 percent from the field (31-for-83).
Memphis point guard Mike Conley (five points and six assists) hit the floor hard in the third quarter and went back to the locker room a with right hamstring strain. He returned midway through the fourth for less than a minute, then limped back to the locker room.
The officials handed out three technical fouls in the third quarter, one on Memphis coach Dave Joerger for arguing about calls and then a double-technical on Butler and Johnson as things got chippy. Westbrook picked up a technical in the fourth quarter for protesting a foul call.
The Thunder led by as many as 17 in the first half and were up 56-41 at halftime thanks to 18 points from Durant and 12 from Westbrook. The Thunder shot 56.1 percent through the first two quarters.
Randolph scored 14 first-half points for Memphis, and Gasol had 11. Memphis struggled from the free-throw line in the first half, hitting seven of 13 (53.8 percent).
NOTES: Thunder F Kevin Durant made just 10 of 24 shots in Oklahoma City’s 100-99 overtime Game 5 loss at home, and he shot 3-for-6 from the free-throw line, continuing a series-long pattern of inefficiency at the hands of the Memphis defense led by G Tony Allen. A headline in The Oklahoman on Thursday labeled Durant “Mr. Unreliable.” Though Durant shrugged off the controversy, Durant’s mother took issue with it, fans took issue with it, and the newspaper issued an apology. Ninety minutes before Game 6, Thunder coach Scott Brooks vowed the uproar over the headline wouldn’t negatively impact his team or Durant. “What you have to do as a professional team and a professional athlete (is) focus on what you can control,” Brooks said. “You can’t focus on what people say or write.” ... The Grizzlies had a lot of math on their side going into Game 6 with a 3-2 lead. Teams leading 3-2 in a best-of-seven go on to win the series 85.9 percent of the time. Also, Memphis was 4-0 all-time in Games 6s.