Thunder Vs. Grizzlies, Game 4: Oklahoma City Pulls Away In Third Overtime To Even Series

Kevin Durant made a key block and bucket in the third overtime, scoring 35 points in all with 13 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook poured in 40 points, as the Thunder evened the series with the Grizzlies, 133-123.

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Grizzlies Vs. Thunder Is Great, But Durant Vs. Westbrook Will Decide The NBA Title

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook survived the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night, but as the NBA Playoffs unfold, the Oklahoma City Thunder's title hopes look tethered to a different question: Can Westbrook and Durant's partnership survive the postseason?

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Shane Battier Having Major Impact For Grizzlies Against Kevin Durant, Thunder

Shane Battier isn't the Memphis Grizzlies' starting small forward, but right now he's certainly the team's most important player at that position. With Rudy Gay on the shelf and Sam Young starting but playing fewer than 20 minutes a game, Battier, a midseason acqusition from the Houston Rockets, has drawn a lot of the responsibility for slowing Kevin Durant. And according to the numbers, he's done a good job.

According to StatsCube, in 105 minutes with Battier on the court this series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis has an efficiency differential of +5.5. In 107 minutes with Battier on the bench, Memphis has an efficiency differential of -6.5. That's a massive 12 points per 100 possessions swing.

How much of the impact has been Battier's defense of Durant versus Battier just receiving minutes when Durant is off the floor? For starters, Battier has rarely played when Durant is on the bench -- Memphis coach Lionel Hollins has only had Battier on the court for 19 minutes with Durant out, and 86 minutes with Durant on.

When both are on, Durant actually shoots quite a bit better than usual -- he's at 56 percent when Battier is on, and 38 percent when Battier is off. But he's shooting less: Battier is limiting Durant to 15 field goal attempts per 36 minutes, while KD is getting 17.4 when Battier is on the bench. The end result, though, is better scoring for Durant against Battier than Young or Tony Allen.

So it's not cut-and-dry. Battier's having a great positive impact, but it's not because he's stopping Durant.

For more on the Grizzlies, visit Straight Outta Vancouver.

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Oklahoma City Thunder Foul-Drawing Abilities Haunt Memphis Grizzlies In Triple-OT Thriller

Coming into the NBA Playoffs series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies, the foul line figured to have a big impact. The Thunder were tops in the league in free throw rate, thanks to the aggressive styles of play Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant provide. Memphis was a middle-of-the-pack team in foul rate this season; they didn't avoid fouls at all costs like spiritual ancestor San Antonio, but didn't hack like a Jerry Sloan team, either.

Sure enough, fouls played a huge role in Monday's Game 4 triple-overtime thriller between the Thunder and Grizzlies. Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins used Tony Allen sparingly, reserving his fouls for late-game defense of Durant. O.J. Mayo and Mike Conley, two of Memphis' three perimeter ballhandlers and two of about four healthy three-point shooters, both fouled out in the first overtime. That left Hollins relying on rookie Greivis Vasquez. Luckily, Vasquez came up big.

Durant ended up with 18 free throws, and nearly half (16) of his 35 points came from the line. Westbrook took 11 free throws and James Harden -- who received huge minutes (49) off the bench -- earned 10.

It's interesting to note that the Memphis guards were the ones picking up foul trouble, not the big men. That's a nice consolation for the Grizzlies; had Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol been hit with foul trouble, Memphis would never have made it to overtime, let alone three of them.

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Thunder Vs. Grizzlies, Final Score: Oklahoma City Outlasts Memphis in 3OT Victory

Kevin Durant made his mark on a marathon, and Oklahoma City has wrestled back homecourt advantage in its Western Conference semifinal series with Memphis.

Durant made a key block and bucket in the third overtime, scoring 35 points in all with 13 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook poured in 40 points, as the Thunder evened the series with the Grizzlies, 133-123.

James Harden donated 19 points with seven assists and seven rebounds for the Thunder, who will host Game 5 on Wednesday after coming out on top in just the sixth-ever NBA playoff game to last three or more overtimes.

Zach Randolph racked up 34 points and 16 rebounds, Marc Gasol posted 26 points and a staggering 21 rebounds, O.J. Mayo contributed 18 points and Michael Conley 16, but both watched in frustration for the better part of three overtimes after fouling out.

In a war of attrition that, at times, looked like a game that neither team could win turned into one that neither team dared to lose. Memphis blew an 18- point first half lead, then Oklahoma City coughed up a double-digit fourth- quarter lead, and that was all before late Monday night turned well into Tuesday morning.

For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City. For more on the Grizzlies, visit Straight Outta Vancouver.

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Thunder Vs. Grizzlies Score: Memphis Holding On To A Slim 72-71 Lead Over Oklahoma City

Memphis once led by as many as 18 points but the Oklahoma City Thunder dug themselves out of that hole and briefly took the lead in the third quarter before a late Marc Gasol lay in gave the Grizzlies a 72-71 lead after three. The Grizzlies have answered every big bucket the Thunder have scored with one of their own fully setting the stage for a great fourth quarter. 

Russell Westbrook leads the Thunder with 20 points but it was Kevin Durant who came alive in the third and now has 18 points. James Harden is also in double figures with 10 points for the Thunder.

Marc Gasol has 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Grizzlies while Zach Randolph has 21 points and nine boards to lead Memphis. O.J. Mayo has come off the bench to score 10 points including a big three-point basket after Oklahoma City had tied the game. 

Foul trouble heading into the fourth quarter is a mild concern as Michael Conley for Memphis and Serge Ibaka for Oklahoma City both have four personals as the final quarter begins. 

For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City. For more on the Grizzlies, visit Straight Outta Vancouver.    

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Thunder Vs. Grizzlies Score: Memphis Takes Slim 53-49 Lead Over Oklahoma City Into Halftime

With all things considered, Oklahoma City has be very pleased with the outcome of the first half. After all they trailed by as many as 18 points before a 22-9 run to close the half has them trailing the Grizzlies by a score of 53-49. The Thunder picked up their defense late in the 2nd quarter even without Kendrick Perkins who spent much of the first half on the bench with foul trouble. 

Russell Westbrook leads Oklahoma City with 14 points. Kevin Durant and James Hardin each have 10 while Daequan Cook netted eight for the Thunder. Durant has yet to get going going just 2-6 from the field but has managed to get to the free throw line eight times thus far.

The Grizzlies were putting on a clinic early before turnovers led the Thunder back in the game. Zach Randolph leads all scorers with 15 points and five rebounds while Marc Gasol has 14 points and four rebounds. Memphis has fed off an enthusiastic crowd but needs to limit their turnovers in the second half to prevent Russell Westbrook and company from turning them into easy baskets. 

For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City. For more on the Grizzlies, visit Straight Outta Vancouver.    

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Thunder Vs. Grizzlies Score: Marc Gasol Has Memphis In Front 28-16 After One

The Memphis Grizzlies got exactly the start they were looking for as they lead Oklahoma City 28-16 after one quarter of play. Kendrick Perkins was saddled with two personal fouls after just five minutes of action and the Grizzlies have taken advantage of his absence inside. Marc Gasol leads the way with 12 points and two rebounds for Memphis. Zach Randolph and Tony Allen pitched in six points apiece for the Grizzlies who hit 52 percent of their shots in the first quarter. 

Memphis has been solid defensively thus far forcing the Thunder into some tough shots and turnovers. Oklahoma City committed seven turnovers in the first quarter and just look a little out of sync with what they want to do offensively. Kevin Duran and Serge Ibaka have five points each while Russell Westbrook tossed in four. The Thunder missed all five of its three-point attempts in the opening quarter. 

For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City. For more on the Grizzlies, visit Straight Outta Vancouver.    

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Thunder Vs. Grizzlies, Game 4: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Look To Recover From Breakdown

The Oklahoma City Thunder had a double-digit lead late in Game 3 against the Memphis Grizzlies, and with it a chance to rip home court advantage back from the Grizz and hand Memphis its first home loss in the NBA Playoffs. Instead, the Grizzlies ripped the game from the Thunder, executing a graceful if careening comeback that resulted in overtime and, eventually, a win.

With a 2-1 series lead, Memphis has a chance to send the chosen Thunder into desperation. With a win in Game 4 on Monday (9:30 p.m. ET, TNT), the Grizzlies would have a commanding 3-1 lead and three opportunities to finish off Oklahoma City. It's exactly what the Grizzlies did to the San Antonio Spurs: take Game 1 on the road, win both at home and give yourself three opportunities to clinch.

It sounds so easy when laid out like that, and nothing about this season has been easy for either team. OKC was able to prevent all-out war from Zach Randolph in Game 3, but it came at the cost of a big afternoon for O.J. Mayo. Memphis had found itself balancing its defense and, frankly, playing with fire: Mayo guarded Russell Westbrook through much of the fourth quarter in Game 3, and it worked. That's a surprise. It could have gone the other direction, and OKC could have closed out the victory.

But it worked, as has so much of what Lionel Hollins has tried this postseason. We'll see if the Thunder can fight back in Game 4. Be sure to check out our Thunder vs. Grizzlies hub for full series coverage. For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City. For more on the Grizzlies, visit Straight Outta Vancouver.

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