The Memphis Grizzlies stormed back in the second half on Friday to beat Oklahoma City 95-83 and push their NBA Western Conference playoff series to a decisive seventh game.
Zach Randolph had 30 points and 13 rebounds as the Grizzlies fended off elimination, knotting their best-of-seven second-round series at three games apiece.
“This is where we want to be playing — game seven, that one game to get to the Western Conference Finals,” Randolph said. “It’s important. I feel good, but the job ain’t done yet. We know it’s going to be tough going to Oklahoma trying to win that game. We believe we can do it, and we’re committed.”
The winner of the series will face the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals for a chance to take on a team from the Eastern Conference for the NBA crown.
Memphis had never won a game when facing elimination before. In 2004, 2005 and 2006 they were swept out of the postseason.
This incarnation of the Grizzlies are enjoying the best playoff run in club history.
They kept it going by out-scoring the Thunder 51-29 in the second half — more than enough to erase a 10-point halftime deficit.
They will have their work cut out in Game 7 today, when the Thunder will try to wrap up the series at home.
O.J. Mayo, who started in place of Sam Young, added 16 points for the Grizzlies.
Randolph said Mayo’s addition to the starting lineup helped give him more space as the Thunder had to deal with the scoring threat Mayo represented.
Mike Conley scored 11 points and handed out 12 assists, while Tony Allen added 10 points for the Grizzlies, who improved to 5-1 at home in these playoffs.
A sellout crowd in flood-hit Memphis stood for the entire second half, urging their eighth-seeded team to keep their improbable playoff run going.
Russell Westbrook led Oklahoma City with 27 points.
James Harden added 14, while Kevin Durant, the NBA scoring champion, was held to a playoff-low 11 points.
Durant was limited after picking up his second personal foul with 7 minutes. 37 seconds left in the first quarter, when he was whistled for a questionable offensive foul.
In the second half he went one of 10 from the floor.
“Frustrating, man it’s frustrating,” Durant said of his night. “To go out there and prepare so hard and not play as well as I wanted to, but I’ve got to keep positive. It’s going to be a tough game seven back at our place. I’m looking forward to it.”
Randolph, who had scored a career-best 34 points in Game 1 of the series, but had been held to just 19.8 points a game since then, scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to preserve the lead Memphis built in the third period.
Randolph had one run of six straight points, capped by a jump shot that sent fans into a frenzy.
The Thunder had their biggest lead at 54-41 just before halftime. It looked as if they were heading to the kind of blowout they posted in Game 5 on Wednesday in Oklahoma City.
However, Memphis’s Shane Battier drained a three-pointer to end the half, helping spark an 18-5 run the Grizzlies used to tie it, then take the lead in the third quarter.