The Oklahoma City Thunder gave the ball away a few too many times, helping the Memphis Grizzlies to take Game 2, 99-93, Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Turnovers were a problem for the Thunder all night. When the one man who simply couldn't make a mistake, made one, the contest was over.
Kevin Durant had to be perfect for his team to get by the Memphis Grizzlies. But as impressive as his 36-point, 11-rebound, nine-assist night was, he was not perfect.
Durant committed five of Oklahoma City's 19 turnovers, none more costly than when he tripped and coughed the ball up with 54 seconds left and his team down four.
Instead, another near-triple-double won out, as Mike Conley's 26 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists proved to be enough. He, unlike Durant, got a lot of help from his teammates to push the series to a 1-1 tie.
Marc Gasol put in 24 points and Zach Randolph chipped in 15, helping provide a nice inside-outside game for the Grizzlies.
Thanks to 15 points off 11 turnovers, and 6-of-8 shooting from Gasol through the first two quarters, Memphis was up 54-51 at the half.
The two teams almost literally went shot-for-shot through the third quarter, until Fisher and Durant got back-to-back buckets with some incredible offensive play. Durant posted 13 points in the quarter, giving OKC a 74-69 lead entering the final frame.
Unfortunately, Durant's only offensive help was a handful of Derek Fisher threes. Fisher turned in a surprising 19 points on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc, but even that wasn't enough.
Mike Conley's first three of the game, followed by a Tony Allen steal and fast break, tied things up almost immediately after play began in the fourth quarter.
Within the first three minutes of the fourth, Allen had picked up four points, two steals, one assist and a rebound.
Chris Herrington @HerringtonNBA
This is the Tony Allen you live with: Good play, Bad play, Good play. 2-to-1 ratio.5/8/2013, 3:57:03 AM
Durant, meanwhile, was forced to go on a stretch where all he could do was look for his own shot. With his teammates unable to maintain, the Thunder superstar poured in seven straight, almost single-handedly allowing OKC to keep pace with Memphis.
The Grizzlies had better balance with the Gasol-Conley pairing working smoothly all night. The duo has a fantastic passing rapport, and it was on full display in a possession that gave Conley an open three to put Memphis up two at the 2:00 mark.
Conley peeled off a Gasol pick and netted a jumper out of the timeout, pushing the Grizzlies lead to four with 1:04 left.
Chris Vernon @ChrisVernonShow
CONLEY!! Massive.5/8/2013, 4:21:54 AM
From there, the Thunder gave up two big turnovers and an enormous Tayshaun Prince offensive rebound with 34 seconds left. Memphis tallied 16 offensive boards on the night.
The Grizzlies leave Oklahoma City with a hard-earned split to open the second-round series. Things won't get any easier for the Thunder when the series shifts to Memphis on Saturday.
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