Grizzlies' Game 4 victory a true team effort

Jamie Squire

While Kevin Durant struggles to carry the scoring load for the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Memphis Grizzlies rode a balanced effort to a Game 4 win Monday night. Memphis is now one game away from advancing to the Western Conference Finals.

In a series in which Kevin Durant has taken on the bulk of the scoring load for the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Memphis Grizzlies have a 3-1 edge, thanks in large part to balanced scoring from three of their best players. Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph combined for 70 points in a wild, 103-97 overtime victory in Game 4 Monday night.

With the victory, the Grizzlies now have a commanding lead as the series shifts back to Oklahoma City for Game 5 Wednesday night. Memphis' players insist they're not looking ahead towards a potential trip to the Western Conference Finals.

"I know our guys are focused," starting point guard Mike Conley said following a 24-point effort Monday night. "We're taking it one game at a time."

That focus allowed Memphis to overcome a slow start in Game 4 to steal a victory. The Grizzlies trailed by 11 after the first quarter and by eight at halftime.

Memphis' strong play started with Conley, who was the most consistent of the Grizzlies' Big Three on Monday night. Conley chipped in 24 points, including 4-of-10 shooting from 3-point range, to go along with five assists and four steals. More importantly, with Gasol struggling in the first half (he shot just 3 of 8 from the field) and Randolph on the bench with three fouls, it was Conley's 13 points prior to intermission which kept Memphis in the game early.

The Grizzlies bounced back with a strong second half and overtime, a run which coincided with improved play from both Gasol and Randolph.

Randolph's impact on Game 4 came as Memphis' low-post threat late in the contest, as Conley and the Grizzlies' guards continued to feed him down in the paint. Randolph scored nine points in the fourth quarter and two more in overtime, giving him 23 total for the game.

Then there was Gasol, who saved his biggest shots for the clutch. Specifically, he hit a pick-and-pop jumper to give Memphis a 100-97 lead with under a minute to go. Gasol later added a free throw to help seal the victory.

Following the game, Conley described the pick-and-roll play with Gasol for reporters.

"They sniffed out the play pretty well," Conley said. "I was pretty patient ... I delivered the ball. Marc made the big play."

A reporter then asked whether the play was designed for Gasol to shoot it or not.

"I'd rather he shoot it," Conley said.

However the play was drawn up, it worked to perfection. Memphis now has a 3-1 series lead heading back to Oklahoma City for Game 5 on Wednesday.

The Grizzlies have now won three straight in this series and can close out the Thunder with a Game 5 victory.

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