In a game 2 that was a lot more like the previous postseason meetings between the two teams, the Memphis Grizzlies took home court advantage away from the Oklahoma City Thunder thanks to a 111-105 overtime win which included a huge game from both Zach Randolph and Mike Conley, while Kevin Durant going wild in the fourth quarter wasn’t enough for a team that simply doesn’t play the right way.
Durant hitting a four-point play to save the day might be the best example. The Thunder were down by five points (93-98) with time running out, so he just tossed a prayer from the corner while Marc Gasol was allegedly shoving him. Somehow, without anything to do with talent or the intelligence of play, it went in, and the Thunder found themselves back in the game. Kendrick Perkins of all people tied the game off a Russell Westbrook miss.
Overtime was exactly the difference between the teams in philosophy. The Thunder take bad shots, relying on talent to make up for the law of averages. Both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were bad in the final minutes, while Zach Randolph and Courtney Lee made the most of a defense that found it difficult to push the tempo this time, finding the breach in the armor almost every time.
Randolph scored 25 points in a big game, shoving and dominating Kendrick Perkins in the paint. Serge Ibaka could help, but for all of his blocks he makes plenty of mistakes when it’s about coverage and trying to move out on a player. Mike Conley created havoc with his penetrations, scoring 19 points and adding 12 assists, as the Grizzlies got a huge piece of help from Mike Miller who gets hot when he sees the Thunder in the playoffs, knocking down three pointers at ease.
The Thunder shot only 39.8% from the field, unable to push the game into a different pace, a track kind of pace, until the fourth quarter when they cut down a big Grizzlies lead. Kevin Durant did finish with 38 points but was 12-of-28 from the field and once again struggled handling the defense of Tony Allen, limiting him to only 4-of-11 from the field. Durant is 36% when Allen is guarding him and 56% when it’s anyone else. Russell Westbrook scored 29 points but was only 11-of-28 from the field in another game he this time managed to ruin (not alone) for his team.
The Grizzlies don’t make it pretty, but they run an efficient ship. Their defense gave the Thunder a hard time, including the bench unit of Reggie Jackson and Caron Butler, not as influential as in the first game. Scott Brooks and Kevin Durant never like to admit their opponents being better after games, so made it sound like it was all about missing open shots and the Grizzlies getting away with fouls. It’s quite the opposite. The Grizzlies forced their own pace in the game, kept the Thunder out of their comfort zone and did the smart things on offense instead of the flashy ones to come up with the win as they even the series at 1-1.