The 2013 NBA playoffs resumed on Saturday, May 11, as the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder by a score of 87-81 in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinals clash. With the victory, the Grizzlies take the series lead at 2-1.
So how did it all transpire?
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 25 points and added 11 rebounds and five assists, while Reggie Jackson posted a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Serge Ibaka tallied 13 points and 10 rebounds, but did so while shooting 6-of-17 from the field.
On the opposite end, Marc Gasol led the Grizzlies with 20 points to go with nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Tony Allen scored 14 points, while Mike Conley continued his rise to stardom with 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
In the end, Durant's missed free throws and Memphis' surprisingly unstoppable fourth-quarter offense decided the defensive slugfest.
The action started early, as Memphis' high-low attack created a 22-18 lead at the end of the first quarter. All five starters got on the board, with Gasol and Zach Randolph leading the charge inside. As Allen poured in some surprising offense and Ibaka continued to struggle offensively, Memphis was in control.
And then Kevin Durant happened.
Jerryd Bayless scored six consecutive points to open up the second quarter, but Durant responded in his usual fashion. He scored eight points during the second and led the Thunder on a furious rally, assisting players such as Kevin Martin and Jackson as they closed the gap.
Entering the half, it was 45-44 Thunder.
Memphis appeared to figure out Durant during the third quarter, smothering him defensively and forcing the ball out of his hands. This forced OKC to go scoreless for 3:37 and enabled the Grizzlies to make a 7-0 run.
Even after scoring, the Thunder went scoreless for another 2:48 as Memphis pieced together a 6-0 run. By the time we entered the fourth quarter, it was 66-60 Grizzlies, and Gasol was in full control offensively.
A Keyon Dooling three set the tone for the final period of play.
Martin, Derek Fisher and Ibaka pieced together offense for the Thunder, but the Grizzlies responded with a three at every turn. Quincy Pondexter and Bayless weathered the storm early, while Z-Bo and Gasol pounded it down low.
As time ran out, Mike Conley's free-throw shooting decided it all, as he knocked down four free throws in the last minute.
There was more to this game than the referees, but the lengthy replay review has become a topic of conversation on Twitter. In fact, the Twittersphere unanimously crowned the referees as the momentum-killing forces of the postseason.
You know, if there ever is any momentum.
Refs consistently take way too much time to review plays. Kills the momentum if there's any.2013-5-11 23:49:32
Do you agree? Should the NBA change its replay policy? Hit the comments section and let us know.
Beyond the referees is a question that many have wondered this season, as Kevin Durant's mean streak has been costly. After receiving 12 technical fouls in his previous five seasons, Durant was handed 12 during the 2012-13 regular season alone.
He was relatively unscathed during this game, but Durant's chippy nature has caught the eye of many writers.
Vincent Goodwill @vgoodwill
Why has KD gotten so many technical fouls this year? To prove he's not nice? Or maybe he senses Scotty won't fight for their team2013-5-11 23:48:33
Is this beneficial or destructive?
More often than not, the Grizzlies dominate defensively and take points as they come. Against OKC in Game 3, however, they were aggressive and managed to get their high-low attack working to perfection.
When that happens, they're close to unbeatable.
If only OKC had an interior presence.
The Thunder may have the league's elite scorer, but that didn't change anything about this one. The Grizzlies clamped down defensively and closed off virtually the entire floor.
Just check the numbers.
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Grizzlies D really shut down Thunder on Saturday. OKC was cold from almost every spot! http://t.co/MRjVxiTVR92013-5-12 00:02:44
That's what you call pure dominance.
There were more creative tweets, but none summed up the competitive nature of this series better. Not only does it address the final score, but it presents us with the proverbial "on to the next one" mentality.
In this back-and-forth series, that's all we keep thinking.
Gary Parrish @GaryParrishCBS
Final: Grizzlies 87, Thunder 81. Memphis leads series 2-1. Game 4 is Monday night at FedExForum.2013-5-11 23:49:55
Do we really want this to end? Ever?
Let us know.