OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Nothing rattled the Memphis Grizzlies.
Not squandering a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter and a five-point lead in the final 19 seconds of regulation. Not Kevin Durant’s 20 points after the third quarter. Not even giving up an improbable game-tying putback that forced overtime.
The Grizzlies remained steady and took care of business in the extra period. Zach Randolph scored 25 points to help Memphis defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 111-105 in overtime on Monday night and tie their first-round playoff series at one game apiece.
“It was just staying confident, understanding that those guys are going to make runs,” Memphis forward Tony Allen said. “We’ve got to weather the storm by staying together and not getting down.”
Mike Conley added 19 points and 12 assists for the Grizzlies, who executed their game plan perfectly and put themselves in position to take control of the series in Game 3 Thursday night in Memphis. Oklahoma City pushed the pace through most of its 100-86 victory in Game 1, but on Monday, the Grizzlies successfully slowed the tempo and limited Oklahoma City’s fast-break opportunities.
“Basically it’s just going to be a slugfest,” said Allen, who was praised by his teammates for playing solid defense against Durant. “We’re going to pound it. They’re going to run it. Whoever can come up with the most stops pretty much wins the game.”
Oklahoma City’s stars put up big numbers, but they worked for everything they got. Durant had 36 points and 11 rebounds, but he made just 12 of 28 shots and had just eight points at halftime and 16 through the first three quarters. Russell Westbrook scored 29 points for Oklahoma City, but he made just 11 of 28 shots. Serge Ibaka added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Thunder, who shot just under 40 percent from the field.
“We missed some shots that we could make,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “Give them some credit. They did a good job of putting their hands on us and we didn’t free ourselves up enough. I thought in the second half, our defense and offense gave us a chance. Unfortunately, we didn’t make a couple of key plays down the stretch.”
Randolph’s layup with 26 seconds left in overtime put the Grizzlies up by two. Ibaka traveled, giving the ball back to the Grizzlies.
Courtney Lee made two free throws for Memphis to make it a four-point game. Durant missed a 3-pointer and Randolph made two free throws with nine seconds left to put the game out of reach and give Memphis’ Dave Joerger his first playoff win as a head coach.
“Tremendous game to be a part of,” Joerger said. “I honestly can tell you that, whether you win or lose. I know that we won. But I thought it was a great game to be a part of. The game was never over. There was a lot of great plays and not just the-ball-going-in kind of plays – loose ball, passion, playoff basketball.”
The Thunder trailed by nine early in the fourth quarter, but they finally took the lead when Thabo Sefolosha stole the ball from Randolph, leading to a dunk by Durant with 1:14 remaining.
Mike Miller came back with a 3-pointer to put Memphis up 95-93 with 53.7 seconds left.
Westbrook missed a 3-pointer and Memphis rebounded. Conley missed the first free throw and made the second to make it a three-point game.
Allen stole the ball from Durant, and Conley made two free throws with 18.1 seconds left to push the Grizzlies’ lead to five.
Durant answered with a miraculous four-point play with 13.8 seconds remaining. He hit a 3-pointer from the corner as he was being pushed out of bounds by Marc Gasol. Durant then converted the free throw to make it a one-point game.
Conley made one of two free throws with 12 seconds left to make it 99-97. Westbrook missed a wild 3-pointer in the closing seconds, but Perkins, who hadn’t made a field goal all game, scored to force overtime.
NOTES: Memphis F Tayshaun Prince, who played just 4:27 in the opener because of a stomach ailment, started, but played just 14 minutes. … Ibaka, who led the league in total blocks this season and was second in blocks per game, finished fourth in the Defensive Player of the Year balloting. He finished third in 2013 and second in 2012. Chicago’s Joakim Noah won the award this year. … Ibaka won the NBA’s Community Assist Award for April in recognition of his charitable efforts in his home country, the Republic of the Congo.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .