Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

May 2, 2014

Reliant recall: Thunder blasts Memphis to force a Game 7

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Kevin Durant insisted the Thunder facing elimination was all the motivation he needed.

Thanks to the NBA's best scorer, the Thunder remain alive and can finish off the Memphis Grizzlies back in Oklahoma City.

Durant scored 36 points to break out of a slump, and the Thunder routed the Grizzlies 104-84 on Thursday night to force a deciding seventh game in the first-round Western Conference series. His performance came on a day where the hometown newspaper questioned his struggles with a headline calling him "Mr. Unreliable."

"We needed to win this game," Durant said. "That's more motivation than anything, so our team responded. We've got to do an even better job in Game 7."

Russell Westbrook added 25 points for the Thunder, who haven't been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs since 2010. They took control early with Durant scoring 14 points in the first quarter, led by 15 at halftime and never let Memphis get that close again in the second half in the first game in the series that didn't go to overtime since the opener.

"You don't get to his level as an NBA player and a great player as he is to have other people motivate you," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "He's self-motivated. He's a tremendous kid and does everything for his team, for our organization. We're proud of him because he gives everything he has. That was the only focus for tonight's game."

Durant also had 10 rebounds and made 14 of 15 free throws. Reggie Jackson had 16 points off the bench for the Thunder, who will host Game 7 on Saturday night.

Grizzlies guard Tony Allen said the Thunder simply wanted the game more and called the loss embarrassing in front of a sellout crowd.

"Now, we've shot ourselves in the foot, and we have to go to a hostile environment now and pretty much show where our heart is at," Allen said.

Marc Gasol had 17 points and Zach Randolph 16 for Memphis. Guard Mike Conley strained his right hamstring, briefly returned and left for good with 8:48 left. Conley went down in the third quarter near midcourt dribbling when Kendrick Perkins reached in for a steal. The Memphis guard returned briefly, but Conley was limping noticeably.

With the Thunder in control, Conley went to the locker room again and didn't return.

Nick Calathes currently is suspended for violating the NBA's anti-drug policy, leaving Memphis with only Beno Udrih at point guard. Memphis coach Dave Joerger said Udrih will play a lot of minutes if Conley can't. Conley said he will be re-evaluated Friday and receive as much treatment as possible before tipoff Saturday.

"I plan on playing," Conley said.

Durant had to answer questions after the shootaround Thursday about that headline in The Oklahoman newspaper. Durant said he had no problem with the headline and that he just needed to hit shots and be more aggressive.

Smiling just before tipoff, Durant did just that. The man who led the NBA scoring 32 points a game during the regular season opened by hitting five of his first seven and finished 11 of 23 from the floor. He continued to struggle outside the arc where he missed all six of his attempts.

The Grizzlies had a chance to advance to their third semifinal in four years on their own floor. Yet they couldn't shoot well or match the Thunder's intensity with a sloppy performance in front of a sellout crowd that tried to energize the Grizzlies. Oklahoma City outrebounded Memphis 47-36 and easily outshot them 49.3 percent (37 of 75) to 37.3 percent (31 of 83).

"We knew sooner or later our shots would fall," Brooks said.

Brooks also benched Thabo Sefolosha and started Caron Butler.

"This is why you play the game to prove doubters wrong, and adversity builds character," Butler said. "This team has a strong character and a will."

Memphis last led 6-4. A team that thrives off defense, the Grizzlies couldn't knock down shots even when they managed to get consecutive stops.

The Grizzlies got to 42-37 with 3:08 left on a steal and fast-break layup by Conley. The Thunder finished the half with a 14-4 run for a 56-41 lead. The Grizzlies missed their first six shots to open the third quarter, finishing any hopes of a comeback.

James Johnson scored 15 points off the bench for Memphis, and Allen added 13.

Notes: This will be the second Game 7 between the teams in four years. Oklahoma City beat Memphis in seven in the 2011 conference semifinals. ... The Grizzlies are 4-1 with a chance to close out a series. ... Steven Adams blocked a career-high five shots off the bench for the Thunder.

Memphis 3, Oklahoma City 3

Saturday, April 19: Oklahoma City 100, Memphis 86

Monday, April 21: Memphis 111, Oklahoma City 105, OT

Thursday, April 24: Memphis 98, Oklahoma City 95, OT

Saturday, April 26: Oklahoma City 92, Memphis 89, OT

Tuesday, April 29: Memphis 100, Oklahoma City 99, OT

Thursday, May 1: Oklahoma City 104, Memphis 84

Saturday, May 3: Memphis at Oklahoma City, 8 p.m.

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Keys-Dakota.jpg Playing both sides of the line

    Recently, Keys High School football standout Dakota Matlock was nearly severely injured in a terrifying car wreck.

    Matlock is coming off a stellar gridiron season for Keys High School. On offense, Matlock ran for over 1,000 yards for the Cougars. In his sophomore season, Matlock led Keys in tackles from the safety position.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bassmaster.jpg Crossing, and fishing, the Delaware

    Bassmaster Elite Series anglers to compete Aug. 7

    BASS has fished out of some legendary venues over the years (including Chicago, Detroit and New Orleans), but never Philadelphia, which is host of the Bassmaster Elite at Delaware River, Aug. 7-10, 2014.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mison.jpg Mixon’s attorney says incident with woman self-defense

    The attorney for Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon says the incident that left a 20-year-old female OU student with multiple facial fractures was a case of self-defense.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hooper.jpg Sparking the flame

    Sequoyah High School’s Justin Hooper looking to lead this year

    Last season was Justin’s last chance to play alongside Cody at Sequoyah High School.
    Justin had to battle to win the Indians starting tailback. The coaching staff did not know who was going to be the Indians starting running back coming into fall practice.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • NSU-fishing-team.jpg NSU teams compete in fishing tournament

    Three teams from Northeastern State University’s Bass Fishing Team competed in the Fishing League Worldwide College Fishing Tournament on Grand Lake in Grove on Saturday, June 21.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Johnson, East win easily at All-State

    Jake Johnson was able to hold off Lawton MacArthur’s Trent Meisel at the Class 5A state tournament in May. On Monday at the All-State tournament at Cherokee Hills Golf Club, Johnson had it much easier against Meisel.

    July 29, 2014

  • McMillan-blackboard.jpg Hometown brothers team up for RiverHawks football

    Northeastern State’s football program will include a pair of hometown brothers for the 2014 season.
    Mason McMillan returns for his sophomore season, and this year he will be reunited with his younger brother, Kourtland. The brothers graduated from Tahlequah High School – Mason in 2013, followed by Kourtland in 2014. At Tahlequah, Mason and Kourtland shared the gridiron for one season.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yurcich ready for second season

    With the 2014 season on the brink, Mike Yurcich, Oklahoma State University football offensive coordinator, is ready for his second year at the helm after coaching a powerful offensive squad a year ago.

    July 28, 2014

  • James_Ethan-(12)-vs.#2CC63C.jpg Back on the line

    RiverHawks’ Ethan James returns to the line healthy and ready for 2014

    RiverHawks offensive lineman Ethan James will enter the 2014 season healthy – something the team, and James, were not in 2013.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Sooners shifting several positions

    Experience comes from encountering the same things in the same ways over and over again. Oklahoma’s Geneo Grissom and Julian Wilson have that at defensive end and nickleback in bunches.
    However, both will be seeing new things when practice begins. Grissom is moving to outside linebacker. Wilson will be getting a look at cornerback as his senior season begins

    July 25, 2014

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Press Sports Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways
Stocks