Durant, Thunder ease past Grizzlies, 99-72
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Back at home for Game 5, the Oklahoma City Thunder made quick work of a Grizzlies team they needed so long to vanquish in Memphis.
Now, it’s back to the house of overtimes.
Kevin Durant scored 19 points, reserve Daequan Cook added 18 and the Thunder took the series lead in the Western Conference semifinals for the first time by beating the Grizzlies 99-72 on Wednesday night.
Just two nights after Oklahoma City needed three overtimes to emerge with a 133-123 victory, Durant and fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook weren’t even needed in the fourth quarter of a blowout.
“We don’t want to be overconfident, I think, but I think we’ve got a good level of confidence,” Durant said. “There’s a difference. There’s a fine line between being cocky and confident.”
Game 6 is Friday night in Memphis. Another sellout crowd is expected at the FedEx Forum, where the Grizzlies claimed Game 3 in overtime – just one overtime.
“I think our confidence is at a solid level,” said Westbrook, who scored 11 in 25 minutes – half his playing time from the previous game.
“We know that it’s going to be loud in there and going to be tough in a hostile environment. We’ve just got to go in there and play our game defensively. If we go in with a positive mindset, I think we’ll be all right.”
Marc Gasol had 15 points to lead Memphis, which got outrebounded 50-33 and didn’t have much left after such a draining loss on its home court.
The Grizzlies shot a season-worst 36 percent, matched their lowest point total from the regular season and never put up much of a fight in the second half.
“We didn’t have the mental edge to win on the road in the playoffs,” Shane Battier said. “We just didn’t have it. As a result we didn’t make the plays.”
By the end, Durant was wearing one of the same white Thunder T-shirts as the sellout crowd and was standing on the sidelines directing the lineup of reserves that got to play in garbage time.
“It’s always better for the home team in these situations, and the team that won the game,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. “Not only were we physically down, we were probably down a little bit mentally, but I’m not making excuses for our group.
“We didn’t play very well. We didn’t shoot the ball very well. We missed a ton of layups.”
After a classic Game 4, when the Thunder had chances to win at the end of regulation and each of the first two overtimes, Brooks said it was like “three wins in one.”
It may have won them at least two.
The Grizzlies were a ragged bunch throughout the game and didn’t get much from their potent frontcourt tandem of Zach Randolph and Gasol.
Randolph, who played 56 minutes in the marathon Game 4, finished with nine points and seven rebounds and even missed four of his first five free throws. He had been averaging 26 points and 14 rebounds in the series.
Gasol, who was averaging 18.8 points and 12.8 rebounds in the series, grabbed just five boards and did most of his scoring during a 6-minute stretch in the third quarter.
Then the Grizzlies fell hopelessly behind.
Oklahoma City’s Nick Collison capped a four-point possession by turning an offensive rebound into a three-point play. When he converted the free throw, it completed a string of seven straight points by the Thunder to bump the lead to 65-46 late in the third quarter.
Memphis didn’t stand a chance of a comeback. Too many missed layups. Too many short shots that clanked off the front rim. Too little energy left.
Mike Conley made just 4 of 16 shots, Tony Allen was 4 for 13 and O.J. Mayo 2 for 8 on a dreadful night when nothing was going in.
“Shots weren’t falling for us but you still have to come with great effort and we didn’t bring it at all,” Conley said. “They outplayed us in every area of the game. I wish I could tell you why. It just wasn’t there.
“They hit us and kept hitting us and we didn’t fight back.”
Oklahoma City came up empty on its first seven possessions and turned the ball over nine times in the first quarter, but Memphis couldn’t take advantage and never led by more than six.
The Grizzlies got just nine points off of the Thunder’s 11 turnovers in the first 18 minutes.
When the Thunder finally put together 5 straight minutes without a turnover, they stormed ahead with a 15-2 run late in the first half, featuring a 3-pointer by Westbrook and two-handed slams by James Harden and Durant.
Durant thumped his chest after his dunk, with Oklahoma City on its way to a 46-35 halftime lead it would never give up.
“There was no fatigue factor for us. … I thought our guys came in with focus,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “You beat good teams by really executing very well and with good effort, and we did both of them tonight.”
The Grizzlies will have to hope to be re-energized by a return to their own home court in a bid to force a deciding Game 7 on Sunday afternoon in Oklahoma City.
“It’s not about fatigue at this point. I’m not tired,” Allen said. “It’s about competing for 48 minutes. This is a one-game series for us now. That’s how we have to look at it.”
NOTES: There have been only six NBA playoff games that went at least three overtimes, and Kendrick Perkins has played in the last two. He was with Boston for a triple-OT game against Chicago in 2009, before Monday night’s marathon in Memphis. … The Thunder came into the game leading all playoff teams in scoring (105.4), free throw percentage (81.0), defensive rebounds (33.8), total rebounds (47.1), blocks (8.2) and personal fouls (26.4). … After Gasol tipped away a second-quarter jump ball on its way up, referee Monty McCutchen tossed the do-over while Gasol wasn’t looking.