Kevin Durant scored 35, including 12 of his team's final 18 points, as the Oklahoma City Thunder pulled out a 93-91 win at home Sunday to take Game 1 of the West semifinal match-up from the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies.
For much of the second half, the Grizzlies were in control as their lead ballooned to as many as 12 points. They took a 73-64 lead to the fourth quarter, but a 7-0 run by the Tayshaun Prince to tie it at 86 with 2:27 to play.tied the game at 84 on a Durant pull-up jumper with 3:46 remaining. After two made Grizzlies free throws, Durant hit a step-back over
Memphis looked primed to pull away from there, but Durant wasn't done. He hit another drifting pull-up driving to his left to bring the Thunder within a point, 90-89, with 37 seconds left. Mike Conley turned the ball over on the next Memphis possession, and Oklahoma City's push resulted in Durant swishing a transition jumper from 19 feet out that gave the Thunder the lead.
Following another Memphis turnover, two free throws from guard Reggie Jackson gave the Thunder a 93-90 advantage with 2.9 second left, but the young point guard fouled Memphis' Quincy Pondexter on a three-point attempt in the final seconds.
Pondexter split the first two attempts at the charity stripe, though, and the Thunder successfully tapped a purposefully miss away as the buzzer sounded to escape with the win.
Durant's final stat line -- 35 points, 15 rebounds and six assists -- is the stuff of superstars.
Beyond Durant's increased aggression, the Thunder got help from Kevin Martin, who put in 25 of his own. That production made up for not only the injury to Russell Westbrook, but Serge Ibaka's immense struggles on Sunday. Oklahoma City's power forward went 1-for-10 from the floor, scored four points and grabbed only five rebounds.
Offense was a hard thing to come by in the first quarter. Neither team shot above 30 percent, and the Grizzlies held a slim 16-14 lead.
The pace and the offensive rhythm opened up in the second quarter, and the expected physicality between the two teams reared its head. Prince attacked an open lane to the hoop on the left baseline, but a slow rotation by Thunder forward Nick Collison ended with a hard foul and fall by Prince on what was ruled a flagrant.
But on offense, neither team shot below 57 percent from the floor in the second quarter as Oklahoma City took a 47-46 lead to the locker room. That was despite Durant taking four free throws and no field goal attempts in the second quarter -- he had 14 points at halftime.
1. Can the Thunder point guards keep it up?: Derek Fisher hit two huge three-pointers in the fourth quarter and Reggie Jackson sealed the game with clutch free throws in the final second to finish with 12 points of his own. Or so he thought. Jackson fouled Quincy Pondexter on a three-point heave that would've tied it, but the Memphis swingman missed the first free throw.
2. What will Perk and Z-Bo do?: Kendrick Perkins used his fouls, grabbed seven boards and had three assists in 34 solid minutes. Zach Randolph put in 18 points and 10 rebounds. Neither really did anything to continue their feud from a verbal altercation back in November.
3. Can the Memphis redemption tour continue?: Not so much. The Grizzlies looked primed to steal Game 1, but in the end, they blew a 12-point lead and also made two crucial turnovers in the final 30 seconds of the game.