Kevin Durant was going to have his heroics. Impossible four-point plays from the corner that turned a sure thing into a bunch of doubt. How do you come back for overtime after leading the entire game only to see THAT happen followed by the most improbable of things — a Kendrick Perkins layup to tie the game and send it to overtime at the buzzer.
This is Memphis though. The home of “grit and grind” and a never-say-die defensive mindset. The Grizzlies have faced plenty worse. And as long as there is a moment left in the game, they are going to fight.
That is why you have to give them a puncher’s chance in this series against the Thunder.
Maybe more than that now that Memphis has stolen home court advantage, denying and pushing Kevin Durant around late in the game and breaking down Oklahoma City’s over-aggressive defense for a 111-105 overtime win in Game Two on Monday.
Zach Randolph had the deciding basket off of a Tony Allen curl of all things. Memphis is one to do things unconventionally. Courtney Lee sealed the deal at the free throw line and the Thunder failed to even get up a good look with a three-point deficit late at home. Memphis’ defense had effectively frustrated Oklahoma City.
Randolph scored 25 points and Mike Conley had 19 points to go with 12 assists. The Grizzlies offense controlled the pace throughout the game and had the lead. The Thunder found room only when they got stops and got out on the run. They struggled to crack the defense when the Grizzlies could get set.
Kevin Durant had 36 points on a frustrating 12 of 28, something that will be overshadowed by the late game heroics and brilliance. Russell Westbrook scored 29 points to go with eight assists and seven rebounds. The Thunder relied heavily on those two and any time they were not the primary attackers, it mean trouble for Oklahoma City.
A 1-1 series is not necessarily trouble. But in two road games, the Grizzlies showed they are unafraid and ready to battle.