MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Zach Randolph remembers blowing a 22-point lead in the second quarter. For Tony Allen, the play that stands out came when Russell Westbrook threw a left-handed pass jumping out of bounds to James Harden for a crucial three-pointer in the first overtime.
Oh yes, the Grizzlies have been here before. They hold a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals over the same team – Oklahoma City – that beat them 133-123 in triple overtime to tie the 2011 semifinals at two games apiece. The Thunder went on to win in seven games.
Now the Grizzlies will find out whether age and experience can help them hold onto home-court advantage after they beat Oklahoma City 87-81 on Saturday.
We in the same position now, so its time for us to conquer that moment and take advantage of these games thats ahead of us and try to win two games, Allen said Sunday.
Memphis had plenty of chances to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the 2011 semifinals. The crowd at that Game 4 was so loud at times players couldnt hear coaches from the bench or even point guards calling plays on the court. Then Kevin Durant scored six of his 35 points in the third overtime as the Thunder handed Memphis its first loss that postseason.
These Grizzlies have won six of their last seven and are undefeated on their home court this postseason. Game 4 is tonight.
Same situation we was in a few years ago, so we know how to handle it, Durant said. We cant come into practice today and with our heads down moping around because we lost the basketball game. We just got to keep moving forward, keep fighting and well be fine.
The Grizzlies have plenty to think about. Oklahoma City outrebounded Memphis 51-44 with a 14-5 edge on the offensive boards, and the Thunder also had a 44-30 edge on points in the paint Saturday. Randolph had only eight points.
For all that Oklahoma City did well, the Thunder spent Sunday trying to regain confidence shooting the ball after their worst performance this postseason both shooting and scoring. The Thunder shot only 36.4 percent Saturday with Durant joining teammates in missing wide-open shots.