Grizzlies beat Thunder, force do-or-die match
Memphis — Zach Randolph is doing everything he can to keep the Memphis Grizzlies’ memorable playoff run going as long as possible.
Randolph had 30 points and 13 rebounds, and the Grizzlies avoided elimination by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 95-83 Friday night to push their Western Conference semifinal to Game 7 — the first in these NBA playoffs.
The Grizzlies had never won a game before when facing elimination, but that was back in 2004, 2005 and 2006, when they were swept out of the postseason each of those years. These Grizzlies are having not only the best playoff run in franchise history, but they now have won more games this postseason than any other No. 8 seed from the West.
Game 7 will be on Sunday (Monday in Manila) in Oklahoma City, with the winner advancing to play the well-rested Dallas Mavericks.
“This is where we want to be playing, Game 7, that one game to get to the Western Conference finals,” Randolph said.
O.J. Mayo, who started in place of Sam Young, scored 16 points for Memphis. Mike Conley had 11 points and 12 assists, and Tony Allen added 10 points as the Grizzlies also improved to 5-1 on their home court in this postseason, with a sellout crowd standing for the entire second half cheering to keep this stunning run going at least one more game.
Memphis outscored the Thunder 51-29 in the second half and 46-38 in the paint overall.
Russell Westbrook (FSY) led the Thunder with 27 points, and James Harden (FSY) had 14. Kevin Durant (FSY), the NBA’s leading scorer in the regular season, was held to a postseason-low 11 points.
“It’s going to be a tough Game 7 at our place,” Durant said. “I’m looking forward to it. I started the game off like I did … After that, it goes downhill. It’s frustrating.”
Randolph had been limited to just 19.8 points and 31.9 percent shooting since he scored a career-best 34 points in Game 1. He had been the focus of the Thunder’s defense and had just nine points on 3-of-9 shooting in Game 5. Memphis coach Lionel Hollins credited the difference to having 48 more hours to recover from their triple-overtime loss Monday.
The power forward, named to the All-NBA’s third team yesterday, scored 12 in the fourth to preserve Memphis’ lead. Randolph scored six consecutive points, capped by a 12-foot fallaway jumper that sent the fans into a frenzy chanting his nickname.
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