The Oklahoma City Thunder escaped their Game 1 semifinals matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies with a 93-91 victory.
Kevin Durant led the way with 35 points, 15 rebounds and six assists. He hit what turned out to be the game-winning shot to propel Oklahoma City to a come-from-behind victory. Kevin Martin pitched in 25 points and seven rebounds as well.
Marc Gasol finished with 20 points, 10 points and two blocks for the Grizzlies. Zach Randolph also had 18 points and 10 rebounds of his own, but it wasn't enough. A handful of botched plays in the waning minutes cost the team the lead and inevitably the game.
Durant once again served as the primary offensive catalyst for the Thunder, and though he was forced to shoulder the bulk of the scoring in the fourth quarter, he spent most of the game also creating opportunities for his teammates.
Though this one proved to be highly entertaining, it began as unsightly. The first quarter of this one was simply ugly.
Oklahoma City began the game by hitting on just one of its first 11 shots, posting just 14 points in the opening quarter. Memphis didn't fare much better, scoring just 16 after attempting eight three-pointers.
The Thunder, however, regained the lead in a far more interesting second quarter.
They dropped 33 points on a usually stingy Grizzlies defense. Oklahoma City also relinquished 30 points to the oft-anemic offense of the Grizzlies, though, and went into the half with just a one-point lead.
Durant and Kevin Martin combined for 29 points through the first two quarters, while Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Jerryd Bayless combined for 30.
Heading into the locker room, neither team had shot especially well from the field. The Grizzlies hit on 43.9 percent of their shots, the Thunder just 38.6, including just 16.7 percent from long range (1-of-6).
Memphis came out firing in the second half, though. The Grizzlies hit on 47.8 percent of their field-goal attempts in the third, scoring 27 points to the Thunder's 17. Following Quincy Pondexter's buzzer-beating three to end the period, they took a nine-point lead into the fourth.
Durant and the Thunder would not go quietly, however. They cut the lead to just two less than two minutes in, prompting Lionel Hollins to call a timeout so that his team could find its composure.
The two teams spent the remainder of the fourth quarter jostling for position, but it was Memphis that was up by three inside a minute to go. Durant would have none of that. He buried a shot for two of his 12 fourth-quarter points, cutting the deficit to one.
Mike Conley committed a crucial turnover on Memphis' next possession, paving the way for Durant to bury the go-ahead two with just 11.1 seconds to go.
Conley then turned the ball over once again, and Oklahoma City's Reggie Jackson hit two free throws to increase the Thunder's lead to three with 2.9 seconds left.
Jackson fouled Pondexter as he went for the game-tying three with under three seconds to play, sending him to the charity stripe for three free throws.
Pondexter failed to convert on the first of his three attempts. After making the second one, he was forced to purposely miss the third.
Neither Gasol nor Randolph was able to secure the offensive rebound for Memphis, giving Oklahoma City a 93-91 victory.
The Thunder now hold a 1-0 lead in the series and will look to increase their hold in Game 2 on Tuesday night.
As previously noted, the first quarter much left to be desired...unless you hoped to take a nap.
The bright side? Both the Thunder and Grizzlies fared better than Joe Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets did in Game 7 against the Chicago Bulls.
Following Pondexter's third-quarter "dagger," the Grizzlies implored their fans to believe.
Meanwhile, Royce Young of CBSSports.com and Daily Thunder just wondered if Pondexter would be compensated for his heave.
Following Durant's go-ahead two with just 11.1 seconds remaining in the fourth, the Twitter world went even crazier, reinforcing the notion that Durant is, in fact, not nice, but also clutch.
Down nine leading into the fourth, this was a gut-check win for Oklahoma City. And it was a gut-wrenching loss for the Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies may have been the favorites to win this series against a Russell Westbrook-less Thunder, but it was Durant who struck first.
Now it's on to Game 2.