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May 12, 2013

Grizzlies remember blown 2-1 lead vs OKC in ‘11

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Zach Randolph remembers blowing a 22-point lead in the second quarter. For Tony Allen, the play that stands out came when Russell Westbrook threw a left-handed pass jumping out of bounds to James Harden for a crucial 3-pointer in the first overtime.

Oh yes, the Grizzlies have been here before. They hold a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals over the same team — Oklahoma City — that beat them 133-123 in triple overtime to tie the 2011 semifinals at two games apiece. The Thunder went on to win in seven games.

Now the Grizzlies will find out if age and experience can help them hold onto home-court advantage after they beat Oklahoma City 87-81 on Saturday.

“We in the same position now, so it’s time for us to conquer that moment and take advantage of these games that’s ahead of us and try to win two games,” Allen said Sunday.

Memphis also wasted home-court advantage not once but twice in 2012. The Grizzlies blew a 27-point lead in losing Game 1 along with a series-clinching Game 7 loss to the Clippers.

“All those losses really stuck I think basically because we had a chance to win them, especially at home,” Grizzlies guard Mike Conley said.

Memphis had plenty of chances to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the 2011 semifinals. The crowd at that Game 4 was so loud at times players couldn’t hear coaches from the bench or even point guards calling plays on the court. Then Kevin Durant scored six of his 35 points in the third overtime as the Thunder handed Memphis its first loss that postseason.

These Grizzlies have won six of their last seven and are undefeated on their home court this postseason after beating Oklahoma City 87-81 on Saturday.

Game 4 is Monday night.

“Same situation we was in a few years ago, so we know how to handle it,” Durant said. “We can’t come into practice today and with our heads down moping around because we lost the basketball game. We just got to keep moving forward, keep fighting and we’ll be fine.”

The Grizzlies have plenty to think about after being outworked at their own game by the Thunder on Saturday for the first time in this series. Oklahoma City outrebounded Memphis 51-44 with a 14-5 edge on the offensive boards, and the Thunder also had a 44-30 edge on points in the paint. Randolph had only eight points.

“We weren’t taking good shots,” Memphis center Marc Gasol said. “We were not moving the ball. We were not attacking the paint. We were settling too much.”

For all that the Thunder did well, they spent Sunday trying to regain confidence shooting the ball after their worst performance this postseason both shooting and scoring. A team that ranked third in the NBA scoring at 105.7 points a game shot only 36.4 percent Saturday with Durant joining teammates in missing wide-open shots.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks doesn’t want his players worrying about the shots they missed and only about what they put up next.

“This is a broken record, but I know we can hit shots,” Brooks said. “I’ve seen the ball go in the basket many, many times with our team, and I have confidence that will happen and hopefully soon.”

Kevin Martin, who had 25 points in Oklahoma City’s win in Game 1, was 6 of 17 for 13 points Saturday. Serge Ibaka had 13 points but missed a couple dunks, layups and wide-open jumpers in shooting 6 of 17.

For a second straight game, Oklahoma City went cold down the stretch. Derek Fisher, who had hit 6 of 8 beyond the arc, looked much more like the 38-year-old guard who left the game earlier this season. He was 1 of 5 from 3-point range, the lone 3 coming with 1:58 left to tie up Memphis for the last time at 81.

“We realize the only thing missing right now is us making shots, and that’s something we’ve been doing all year,” Martin said.

Durant insists he can do more.

“I have to put them in better position,” Durant said. “I have to make shots to free them up. I have to continue to help their confidence grow every time down. I got to do a better job. That’s how I look at it.”

 

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