At times it seemed the Thunder and Grizzlies would fail to give us a fourth-straight overtime game, but we should have known better, even in the face of a 20-point deficit for Oklahoma City. The Thunder would roar back and tie the game in the final moments, but they couldn't get more last-second magic in overtime to beat Memphis, falling 100-99.
Oklahoma City had a tough start trying to defend Zach Randolph, who was 6-for-6 to start the game. Mike Miller also proved to be a bothersome pest for the Thunder defense as he was the catalyst in the second quarter that helped extend Memphis' lead with the help of his 11 second-quarter points.
But the Thunder's early failings were as much on their defense as their offense, which was stymied by the Grizzlies' defense. Tony Allen was again a nuisance for Durant, as viewers get treated to Allen's outstanding probing and relentless style. Oklahoma City struggled to connect on pretty much anything in the paint, and neither team could draw a bunch of fouls, which proved to be a more difficult obstacle for the Thunder's offense.
After the break, Memphis brought a rush of offensive firepower, pushing their 12-point halftime lead to 20 with a few minutes left in the third. But Oklahoma City made a marked turnaround after a stark scoring drought, going on a 13-0 run and finishing the quarter down six. Despite shooting under 40 percent from the field for much of the game, the Thunder's three-point shooting made up ground quickly, doubling Memphis' total makes through the third quarter.
The Grizzlies continued to lose their handle on offense and defense in the fourth, ultimately giving up the lead midway through the quarter. Memphis didn't make a field goal in the fourth until a mere 4:54 remained, a stunning showing by the Thunder's athletic defense. Long rebounds contributed to extended possessions and second-chance points that burned the Grizzlies time after time.
But Memphis would rebound, no pun intended. Mike Conley would hit the big buckets to keep the Grizzlies' offense from drying up, splitting defenders and getting to the rim. The Thunder fell back into a small deficit but quickly closed it with a Caron Butler four-point play.
The final minutes turned to slop as every possession became more and more valuable with time winding down. Neither offense could find space or hit jump shots. Durant noticeably got few touches in the middle of the quarter, and when they went back to him in the last minute, he turned the ball over and missed a three.
Russell Westbrook, often the goat du jour, yet again turned heroic with not only a quiet triple-double but also saving the night for Oklahoma City with a steal on Mike Conley and easy dunk with four seconds left.
Memphis then ran a beautiful play hinged on frontcourt passing, but Zach Randolph couldn't get his open layup off in time to beat the clock and back to overtime we went.
Mike Miller pushed OKC back into the hot seat with a couple threes to start the extra period, and Kevin Durant stemmed the run with a couple shots. And as if to prove the playoffs are a time of absolute insanity, the Thunder gave the ball to Perkins to score. And he did! Anything is possibleeeee!
Memphis took a two-point lead after Mike Conley hit a layup and then things got weird. The two teams traded empty possessions, and then Kevin Durant went to the free-throw line with 27 seconds left. He hit the first, and as he prepared to shoot the second, Joey Crawford stormed onto the scene, halting play to take the ball and check out something momentarily on the review monitor before returning the ball. Durant would then go on to miss the second free throw.
The game was kept alive when Miller missed a three pointer at the other end and the Thunder got possession after the ball careened out of bounds amid tangled limbs under the basket.
Durant got the inbounds with two seconds left and immediately heaved a three, which bounced off the backboard and rim. But Ibaka scooped up the offensive rebound and dropped in the putback as red lights lit up the basket. Unfortunately for the home crowd and the Thunder players who piled on Ibaka thinking they won, the basket was ruled to have been after the buzzer sounded.
Now Memphis has a chance to end the series at home with the 3-2 series lead and pressure again is heaped onto the laps of Durant, Westbrook, Scott Brooks and company.