Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) knocks the ball away from Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant during the third overtime of Game 4 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series. (Photo: AP Photo/Lance Murphey)
We all knew this Western Conference semifinals matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies had the makings of an exciting series. But now we are seeing that this series could by far exceed our expectations.
For those who either had to exit early or fell asleep before the end of the second overtime, the Thunder pulled out a thrilling 133-123 triple overtime victory over the Grizzlies in a game that began Monday night but didn’t end until early Tuesday morning. The win in Memphis evened the series at 2-2 and returned home court advantage to the Thunder.
For those keeping count, it was the second straight overtime game in the series.
“This game is something people are going to be talking about for a while," said Memphis forward Kevin Durant, who dropped 6 of his 35 in the third overtime. "I'm glad I'm a part of it."
There were definitely several memorable and thrilling moments in this matchup of young superstars as the sold out crowd stayed on their feet throughout the overtime periods. Russell Westbrook, who led the Thunder with 40 points, and Durant were their usual clutch selves down the stretch, while Zach Randolph continued to have an unbelievable playoff with 34 points and 16 rebounds to lead Memphis. Marc Gasol also had a strong game with 26 points and 21 rebounds in the losing effort.
The difference became obvious in the third overtime, however, when the Grizzlies could no longer match shots and were outscored 14-4.
"Both teams kept coming back and fighting and fighting and fighting. It became a matter of just not having enough bullets as the game wore on," said Memphis coach Lionel Hollins. "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."
But with the win, the Thunder are back in the driver’s seat for Game 5. Oklahoma City gets two of the final three games in the seven-game series at home as a Western Conference finals showdown with Dallas awaits.
"We've got to keep fighting though," Durant said. "It's tied up right now. We're taking it back to our house. So we'll see how we handle it."