Defensive plays abounded in Game 4, as the Memphis Grizzlies used overtime to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 103-97 on Monday night.
The Grizzlies consistently stood their ground and hit a couple of big shots to send the FedEx Forum crowd home happy. The win gives the Grizzlies a 3-1 series lead, putting them on the brink of the Western Conference Finals.
Memphis was able to force Kevin Durant into a 2-of-12 fourth quarter and overtime. With Tony Allen guarding him, Durant missed the Thunder's final three shots of the game, allowing the Grizzlies to pull away.
Marc Gasol had three of his 23 points in the extra five minutes, and the freshly crowned Defensive Player of the Year was also a beast on that end, notching six blocked shots and grabbing 11 rebounds.
Mike Conley was huge all game in leading the Memphis offense. He finished with a team-high 24 points, while Zach Randolph chipped in 23 and 12 rebounds.
Durant went for 27 points, but thanks to his poor finish, it took him 27 shots to get there. He racked up seven assists and seven boards, but contributed four turnovers.
Just as it was defense that helped the Thunder force the overtime period, it was defense that won the game for Memphis.
Oklahoma City held the Grizzlies to just a pair of free throws over the final two minutes of regulation, as Kendrick Perkins then blocked Randolph's attempted game-winner at the elbow.
The Thunder jumped out to a big early lead, beating the Grizzlies by 11 in the first quarter. Memphis went on a bit of a run toward the end of the first half, capped by two Conley-to-Jerryd Bayless threes, cutting the Oklahoma City lead to 56-48 at the break.
Marc Gasol showed some nice range late in the third, and a 13-4 run by Memphis (featuring six points from Gasol) knotted things up at 76 heading into the final frame. Gasol and Conley had combined for 49 of the Grizzlies' 76, while Durant had a game-high 22 points.
Through the middle of the fourth quarter the two teams were trading baskets, back and forth. Reggie Jackson netted a pair, but Zach Randolph hit two and got to the line for a couple more.
Inside of four minutes, Nick Collison and Randolph got a bit too physical under the hoop for the referees' liking. Collison picked up two fouls on the same possession, the second of which was No. 6. He went to the bench with 10 points, but Randolph's freebies brought Memphis back to within one, 89-88.
During those free throws, Lionel Hollins subbed Allen back in, and he immediately started denying Durant the ball. That led to multiple defensive stands by the Grizzlies.
Conley's penetration was a problem all night for the Thunder. He got into the lane with two minutes to go and sank a beautiful floater, giving the Grizzlies a one-point lead.
Durant, who was unable to get to the line at all in Game 4, went 1-of-2 inside of two minutes. Then he turned the ball over with 30 seconds left and the Thunder down one.
OKC failed to foul until 10.9 seconds remained. Gasol hit 1-of-2, pushing the Grizzlies ahead 92-90.
That missed free throw came back to haunt Memphis immediately, as Durant easily got to the rim for two and the tie with six seconds to go.
The Grizzlies went to Randolph, but it was time for Kendrick Perkins to earn his playing time and money. The Thunder's much-maligned big man bodied up and blocked Randolph's turn-around, sending the game to overtime.
Zach Randolph muscled his way inside for two in OT, swinging his arm around Serge Ibaka for the basket. That put Memphis up 98-94 with 3:00 to go, their biggest lead of the game.
Derek Fisher, no stranger to big moments, netted a three to cut the Grizzlies lead to one on the very next possession.
Each team made mistakes from there, Jackson with a charge and turnover for the Thunder, and Tayshaun Prince with a bad shot and loose-ball foul.
The stars took over next. Conley found Gasol at the top of the key. The Grizzlies center had Ibaka out of position and made the decision to put the shot up right there. That basket pushed the lead back out to three with 22 seconds left.
Allen stole Fisher's inbounds pass, followed by a series of "To-ny, To-ny" chants from the crowd.
With 20 seconds remaining, Gasol again went to the line and missed 1-of-2. That left the lead at four, 101-97.
Prince iced the game with a pair of free throws, sending the Grizzlies to a 3-1 series lead and a pleasant trip back to Oklahoma City for Game 5 on Wednesday night.