Z-Bo, Gasol power Grizzlies past Thunder, 114-101

By Jeff Latzke

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, May 1 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

"They're not an easy matchup," Gasol said. "They're big and strong, kind of how we are. But we've got different ways to play. We don't just throw the ball in there and try to bang, bang."

Randolph started out with short jumpers to give Memphis the lead for good in the opening 2 minutes, then he followed a 17-5 run fueled by the bench with the Grizzlies' lone first-half 3-pointer to make it answer Durant's two-handed alley-oop and make it 54-38 with 2:26 left before halftime.

The Thunder used a 20-7 charge that spanned intermission to get back within 61-58 before Randolph steadied the Grizzlies again. He hit two free throws, a putback, a tip-in and then a jumper that caromed high off the rim before going in during a key stretch to keep Oklahoma City at bay.

"The one thing that I admire in his game is he's relentless. He's always playing the game. You just know that the loves the game," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "We have to do a better job of controlling him and making him miss some shots.

"It's not going to be easy, and we know that going into it, and we knew that going into this game. He scores, and he scores in bunches, and we have to do a better job with that."

Then, Shane Battier hit a 3-pointer from the right wing when Oklahoma City failed to get back in transition, and Gasol added three straight jumpers — the last one coming at the start of the fourth quarter to make it 86-71.

The advantage reached 91-74 when Battier followed O.J. Mayo's 3-pointer with a layup with 10:22 left.

Brooks called timeout and got Durant back in the game, and the NBA's scoring champion immediately hit a 3-pointer to stop the bleeding. He added a putback on Westbrook's miss and Ibaka had a two-handed slam as Oklahoma City rallied with nine straight points to get within 93-86 after Westbrook's driving jumper with 7:09 remaining.

Mike Conley stopped the comeback with a floater in the lane, and Memphis scored five straight points to bump the lead up to 100-88 after Randolph's jumper with 4:26 left.

The Grizzlies made 12 free throws in the final 3 minutes to close out another win for the underdogs — if you can even call them that anymore.

"We don't call ourselves anything. We believe we can compete against anybody in this league, and that's how we really think, because we've done it all season," Gasol said.

"It's no surprise for us that we can compete and play good against good teams."

NOTES: The series wasn't set until Memphis beat San Antonio on Friday night, giving the teams a little over 36 hours to get ready for Game 1. "Neither team has had a lot of time for preparation. As we go along, the preparation will get better and the game plan will get better because after the first two games, we don't play again until Saturday," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. ... Durant and Westbrook averaged 56.2 points in the first round against Denver, with Durant leading the NBA with 32.4 — 4.8 pts ahead of second place Derrick Rose of Chicago. ... Ibaka added 16 points and 11 rebounds for Oklahoma City.

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