Grizzlies beat Thunder 87-81, take 2-1 series lead

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Marc Gasol scored 20 points and hit two free throws with 1:03 left to put Memphis ahead to stay, and the Grizzlies held off the Oklahoma City Thunder 87-81 Saturday to take a 2-1 lead in this Western Conference semifinal.

Gasol scored 16 in the second half as Memphis remained unbeaten at home in the postseason.

The Grizzlies pulled out the win in an ugly performance for both teams following a three-day layoff since Game 2. After struggling at the free throw line in Oklahoma City, the Grizzlies hit all six at the line in the final 1:03 to clinch it.

Kevin Durant scored 25 points, but only two in the fourth quarter. A 91 percent free throw shooter in the regular season, Durant missed two with 39.3 seconds left.

Tony Allen had his best game in this series, scoring 14 points for Memphis. Jerryd Bayless added 11. Zach Randolph scored only eight points but had 10 rebounds.

The Thunder had their worst scoring and shooting performance this postseason. Reggie Jackson had 16 points for Oklahoma city, and Kevin Martin and Serge Ibaka each added 13. Durant went 3 of 11 from the floor in the second half, and his teammates went a combined 23 of 69 for the game.

Memphis built leads repeatedly, getting to as much as 10 in the second quarter.

Memphis won despite not winning in the categories the Grizzlies usually dominate. The Thunder outrebounded them 51-44 with a 14-5 edge on the offensive glass. The Thunder also outscored the Grizz 44-30 in the paint with a 23-7 edge on fast-break points.

But the Thunder didn’t score after Derek Fisher hit a 3-pointer with 1:58 left.

The rust from the layoff showed early for both teams. Ibaka missed not one but two dunks in the first half, Thabo Sefolosha had an airball and the Grizzlies, who had been so good at limiting turnovers, had five in the first quarter alone.

Memphis coach Lionel Hollins switched up his defense on Durant from the first two games in Oklahoma City. He didn’t put Allen, who finished fifth in voting for Defensive Player of the Year, on Durant until the final minutes of Game 2. This time, he alternated Allen with Tayshaun Prince defending Durant throughout the first half. Allen played Durant most of the third, and that helped limit Durant to 2 of 7 shooting in the quarter.

Memphis led 66-60 at the end of the third quarter. The Grizzlies pushed that to 71-62 on a 3 by Keyon Dooling and a 19-foot jumper by Darrell Arthur. Then the Thunder scored six straight, the last on a dunk by Martin forcing Hollins to take a timeout.

The Grizzlies, who had hit only one of their first nine 3-pointers, hit 3 of 5 in the third quarter to take a 77-70 lead when Pondexter knocked down a 3 with 6:29 left. Pondexter also helped defend Durant in the fourth quarter.

The Thunder led 45-44 at halftime. Durant scored 14 of the Thunder’s first 24 points as he connected on five of his first six shots.

The Grizzlies grabbed their biggest lead at 28-18 on a 28-footer by Bayless. Then Gasol picked up his second foul with 9:02 left and went to the bench for the rest of the half.

Notes: DeAngelo Williams, the former Memphis running back now with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, and rapper Lil Wayne had courtside seats with Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones also on hand. … Durant extended his streak with 20 or more points to 35 straight playoff games. … Durant had his second-lowest scoring game this postseason, a point off the 24 he had in the opener against Houston. … The Thunder went 17-4 after a loss in the regular season. … The Grizzlies had their 14th straight postseason sellout.

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