(The Peake, Downtown OKC)—
The Thunder overcame a near-disastrous 3rd quarter to hold off the Memphis Grizzlies 100-86 in the playoff opener for both teams before a rowdy sell-out crowd at the Chesapeake Arena. After blistering the nets in the 1st quarter and taking a 25 point lead in the 2nd period, the Thunder had seemingly knocked Memphis out, leading 56-34 at halftime.
But the Grizzlies shot 58% in the 3rd quarter and the Thunder couldn’t make any of their shots, hitting a putrid 18%…and going into the final period, the Thunder lead was down to just 69-65. Memphis scored 3 points less, in the 3rd quarter alone, then they put on the board in the entire opening half.
Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 33 points, including 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Russell Westbrook missed the final few minutes of the 3rd quarter and about half the final period before returning to the lineup. He ended up with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. Serge Ibaka chipped in with 17 points, 9 boards and 4 blocks, which brought the packed house to it’s feet several times. And the biggest roar of the night came in the 3rd, when Memphis was making it’s big comeback and Caron Butler slithered in for a massive slam to give OKC a 5-point advantage.
The Thunder defense was stout all night long, and Memphis “Big 3″ of Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley combined to hit just 20-56 shots from the floor while the Grizzlies also missed 13 foul shots.
OKC becomes the *only* home team to win it’s playoff opener on this Saturday. The other trio of home teams all lost (Toronto, L.A. Clippers and Indiana). Game #2 of the series will be Monday night at 7pm, also at “The Peake” downtown.
We’ll have a postgame report coming up soon right here at kfor.com