For the second game in a row, the Oklahoma City Thunder pulled a four-point play to force overtime against the Memphis Grizzlies. And for the second game in a row, the resilient Grizzlies found a way to win in the extra period.
The Grizzlies slowly and methodically built a lead throughout the first 40 minutes of the game, and were seemingly in control with seven and half minutes left, leading 81-64. That's when the Thunder dialed up their defense and the Grizzlies got tentative on offense. It was a combination that enabled OKC to erase the lead, and was helped in no small measure by a foul on Russell Westbrook by Tony Allen on a three-point shot with less than 30 seconds left. Westbrook made the free throw and the Grizzlies couldn't score before the buzzer.
In overtime, the Thunder scored first, but the Grizzlies gritted out another win with a relentless, harassing defense and clutch shooting in crunch time. Allen was his usual trick-or-treat self, making vital plays on both ends, but also making a couple of bone-headed moves, including fouling Westbrook on a three-pointer again, with less than a second left in OT and the Grizzlies leading by five.
The Grizzlies had six players in double figures, including another vital 12 points from backup point guard Beno Udrih and strong minutes from second-string center Kosta Koufos, who came in when Marc Gasol got into foul trouble. The two Thunder stars, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, each scored 30 points, but shot a combined 35 percent.
Game Four in the series takes place Saturday in Memphis.
Note: Kevin Lipe's analysis of Thursday's game is here. — bv