NBA playoffs: Bench leads Thunder past the Grizzlies

By Jeff Latzke

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, May 4 2011 12:07 a.m. MDT

Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, left, reaches around Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant during the first quarter of Game 2 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, May 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Kevin Durant scored 26 points, James Harden led an outburst by Oklahoma City's bench with 21, and the Thunder evened their series with Memphis by beating the Grizzlies 111-102 in Game 2 on Tuesday night.

After scoring just 16 points in a Game 1 loss, the Thunder's bench tripled that amount and put Oklahoma City firmly in control with an 18-6 run to start the fourth quarter.

Russell Westbrook scored 24 and his backup, Eric Maynor, added 15 for the Thunder.

Mike Conley scored 24 for Memphis, which cut a 21-point, fourth-quarter deficit to six in the final minute.

Game 3 is Saturday night in Memphis.

Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combined to make just five of 22 shots for 28 points — just over half their total from the opener. The interior tandem helped Memphis dominate the paint for 52 points in Game 1, but the Thunder outscored the Grizzlies 38-34 this time by deploying frequent double-teams.

The Thunder finally shook free from Memphis with the bench's big run, featuring three 3-pointers by Maynor and seven points from Harden.

Harden hit three free throws — including one after Darrell Arthur was called for a technical for bumping him in retaliation — then turned a steal into a fast-break layup. Maynor's third 3 gave Oklahoma City its first 20-point lead at 94-74 with 7:27 remaining, and Daequan Cook followed about a minute later with another 3 to bump the lead to 21.

When Maynor and Cook finally were pulled in favor of Durant and Westbrook with just under 5 minutes left, the pair got a standing ovation.

Memphis tried to mount a comeback, though, with Conley hitting two 3-pointers and converting a three-point play. Tony Allen's two free throws got the Grizzlies as close as they'd get at 104-98 with 46 seconds left, following a 19-5 rally.

The Thunder lost starting power forward Serge Ibaka — who blocked the most shots in the NBA in the regular season — to an apparent right leg injury with 2:09 remaining in the game. He hobbled to the locker room after fouling Conley and crashing to the floor along the baseline.

Ibaka had been late out of the locker room at halftime after hurting his knee late in the first half, but rode a stationary bike in a tunnel before returning to the game in the third.

Randolph, the star of Game 1 with a playoff career-high 34 points, made only two of his 13 shots and scored 15 points. Gasol was 3 for 9 for 13 points and also hauled in 10 rebounds. Randolph had nine boards.

The Grizzlies shot 44 percent and couldn't find enough firepower to counter after the Thunder hit their first four 3-pointers in the flurry to start the fourth quarter.

Still, they're heading home with home-court advantage after an upset in the opener and will continue their quest to become the first No. 8 seed to reach the Western Conference finals.

Coach Lionel Hollins had warned Memphis at its morning shootaround to maintain focus — something he felt was lacking in a Game 2 loss at top-seeded San Antonio after the Grizzlies had won Game 1 in the first round.

Instead, the Thunder got out to a 28-17 lead after the first quarter by keeping Memphis off of the offensive glass and holding Randolph and Gasol in check. The inside tandem started Game 1 going a perfect 7 for 7, but made just one of seven attempts in the first period this time.

Westbrook had consecutive buckets and Durant hit back-to-back 3-pointers during a 15-4 run that put Oklahoma City ahead.

Memphis got back within 36-33 midway through the second quarter when Arthur made a hook shot after the Grizzlies' fourth offensive rebound on a single possession, but Durant rallied Oklahoma City to restore the lead.

He followed a fallaway 16-footer along the right baseline with a steal and a fast-break layup, punctuating it with a swinging fist pump before stepping to the line to finish his three-point play. The Thunder lead reached a dozen before Conley's 20-foot jumper in the final second made it 54-44 at halftime.

NOTES: The Grizzlies' first offensive rebound didn't come until Gasol grabbed one with 24 seconds left in the first quarter, with his team down 11. ... After the Thunder had lost at home in Game 1, Durant watched Monday night as Chicago and the Los Angeles Lakers followed suit but didn't make too much of the developing trend. "I was just worried about us and how we could get better," Durant said. ... A fan, Roman Owen, hit a halfcourt shot in the break following the third quarter to win $20,000.

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