Three overtimes, three disqualifications, one 40-point game and one 20-point, 20-rebound game. Excessive numbers but that’s what it took to decide an epic Game four between the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder on May 9.

The Thunder erased an 18-point first half deficit to upend Memphis 133-123 and even the best-of-seven series 2-2 in a wild affair. Memphis forced three-straight overtimes on a combination of off balanced three pointers and tip ins but simply ran out of gas in the last period as Oklahoma City outscored them 14-4 in the deciding overtime.

“Both teams kept coming back and fighting and fighting and fighting,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said after the game. “It became a matter of just not having enough bullets as the game wore on. I commend both teams for the effort that they gave and the way they stuck with it and just fought. Nobody wanted to go home. Nobody wanted to lose.”

Memphis guards Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo fouled out in the first overtime, leaving reserve guard Greivis Vasquez the lone defender to handle Thunder guard Russell Westbrook for the rest of the way. Westbrook responded with a playoff career-high 40 points. Zach Randolph led Memphis with 34 points and 16 rebounds and Marc Gasol added 26 points and 21 rebounds.

The 63-minute battle became just the sixth game in NBA playoff history to be decided in three overtimes. “This game is something people are going to be talking about for a while,” Thunder forward and Suitland, Md native Kevin Durant said, who had 35 points, 13 rebounds and four steals . “I’m glad I’m a part of it.”

Game Four is Wednesday, May 11 in Oklahoma City.

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO