Quincy Pondexter hit a corner three-pointer to give the Grizzlies a one-point lead near the one-minute mark of the second quarter, and Zach Randolph scored inside on the next possession to ignite a 7-0 Grizzlies run before Thunder guard Reggie Jackson managed to get to the free throw line and put an end to it. Mike Conley hit a layup with seconds remaining to cap a 9-2 run.
Memphis held the Thunder to just 37.5 percent from the field and forced a whopping six turnovers in the first quarter. But because of Kevin Durant and his personal 5-0 run to end the frame, the Thunder stayed within two despite the struggles. The Grizzlies led by as many as seven points during that stretch.
But the Thunder came crashing back into the game by relying on its bench to do some of the heavy lifting led by Derek Fisher's 14 points, 13 of which came in the second quarter.
SB Nation's own Rodger Sherman put together this preview of tonight's game and explored some good questions. Let's revisit those:
1. How go the Kevins?
Durant single handedly kept the Thunder out of basketball purgatory in the first quarter, and scored nine points on 2-for-3 shooting, including five straight to keep Oklahoma City close at the end of the first. He got to the line four times to mitigate the rest of the team's struggles shooting early on. Kevin Martin was a non-factor in the first, and only managed four points in the second quarter as he finished the half just 1-for-5 from the field.
The Grizzlies' defense is well aware of the fact that Durant and Martin torched them in Game 1 for 60 points, and from the opening tip, they keyed in on both to take the ball out of their hands. So far, it's worked, and they'll need to maintain it in order to keep the pressure on the complementary players.
2. Can Memphis win inside again?
The battle of the bigs is one that Memphis must win in order to take control of this series and steal a game on the road. They have an obvious advantage down low with Randolph and Gasol, despite the former being hobbled with injury.
It's clear, however, that as go the bigs, so do the Grizzlies, and that's proved punishing for the Thunder to this point as they've combined for 26 points.
3. Whose bench wins?
Without Russell Westbrook in the mix, the Thunder's bench effectively loses a man with Reggie Jackson inserted into the starting lineup. Fortunately, Fisher has found a nice niche role and came alive in the second quarter with his 13 points and helped the Oklahoma City Thunder take their largest lead of the game -- five.
Memphis' bench is struggling to keep up with the output from their counterparts, and it's keeping the Thunder in the game. If their reserves continue to display the hot hand, then the Grizzlies will have to mitigate it with their inside presence.