It took overtime and parade of clutch and not-so-clutch plays to get there, but the Grizzlies managed to squeak out a last-second 106-105 win over the Dallas Mavericks at FedExForum, Wednesday.
The win secured the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs, which kick off Saturday in Oklahoma City for the Griz. By losing, Dallas gets to face top seed, San Antonio.
But for all practical purposes, Wednesday was playoff basketball — a game full of lead changes and momentum swings and even what appeared to be a Tony Allen meltdown in the fourth quarter. More about that later.
The Griz started strong and maintained a five-point lead after the first quarter, but Dallas scored 29 in the second and took a 53-51 lead into the locker room at halftime. The second half saw at least a dozen ties and lead changes, with neither team able to pull away. Late in the fourth, Tony Allen presumably thought he was fouled and just walked off the court while the game was in progress. He was quickly pulled from the lineup. Presumably, there will be some sort of explanation forthcoming today.
Despite that brief weirdness, Memphis had the ball and a three-point lead with 20 seconds left in regulation. But Mike Conley was called for an improbable charge and the turnover led to a quick three-pointer by Monta Ellis. The Griz got the ball back with 13 seconds left but were unable to get a shot off.
The Griz fell behind in overtime, trailing 102-98, after Ellis cruised by four Grizzlies on his way to an easy layup. Coach Joerger called timeout, and according to a tweet by Gary Parrish, Zach Randolph yelled to the coaching staff, "We gotta get TA back in." Coach ZBo's words were heeded and Allen re-entered the game with little more than 2 minutes left in OT.
Allen quickly made a difference, dumping off a pass to Randolph for a layup, then following that with a layup of his own to tie the score at 102. After an exchange of buckets, the Griz found themselves trailing 105-104. Conley got a rebound after a Dallas miss and streaked upcourt with 6 seconds left. He was fouled going to the hoop with 1.1 seconds left. In highly un-Memphis fashion, Conley made both shots to seal the win, though Ellis managed to get off a good last-second shot from near the top of the key that clanked off the back rim.
The Grizzlies' Big 3 came up big in this one: Randolph had 27 points, 14 rebounds; Gasol socred 19, plus 9 rebounds and 9 assists; Conley had 22 points and five assists. The Grizzlies finished the season on a five-game win streak and earned another 50-victory season.
Bring on the Thunder. It's playoff time in Memphis.