Grizzlies close out Thunder


OKLAHOMA CITY — The Memphis Grizzlies advanced to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 88-84 on Wednesday night.

Zach Randolph had 28 points and 14 rebounds, and Mike Conley added 13 points and 11 assists for Memphis, the fifth seed.

Kevin Durant missed a 16-foot jumper from the left wing to tie it with 6 seconds left, finishing off a miserable shooting night for the three-time NBA scoring champion.

Durant ended up with 21 points on 5-for-21 shooting, the third-worst performance of his playoff career. The Thunder, who made it to the NBA finals last season, were eliminated in five games. The top seed in the West went 2-6 after All-Star guard Russell Westbrook went out with a knee injury that required surgery.

Serge Ibaka had 17 points and eight rebounds before fouling out with 1:26 to play during a desperation comeback try for the Thunder.

Oklahoma City trailed by 12 with three minutes left before going on a 16-6 rally, with Reggie Jackson’s 3-pointer cutting the deficit to 86-84 with 14.3 seconds remaining.

Randolph missed two free throws with 11.3 seconds on the clock to give the Thunder one last chance to save their season. Durant got the ball beyond the 3-point line on the left wing and navigated around Tony Allen before missing a jumper.

Allen then made two free throws to close it out.

After letting a 14-point lead get trimmed to two, the Grizzlies regained control with a 12-2 run to start the fourth quarter. It featured seven points from Randolph — five from the foul line — and gave Memphis a 76-64 lead with 6:03 remaining.

It was just a big enough cushion to finish off a series of games that all came down to the wire. The first three games featured a go-ahead basket in the final two minutes, and Game 4 went to overtime. Memphis won the final four games.

Oklahoma City got a breath of life with a bizarre play midway through the third quarter. Derek Fisher’s missed 3-pointer turned into a four-point possession. Allen, who was on the bench, waved his arms to try and distract Fisher on his shot, and a shirt slipped out of his hands and onto the floor near Fisher’s feet.

Referee Marc Davis ruled that Fisher’s 3-pointer should count, and Durant hit the free throw resulting from a technical against Allen to get the Thunder within 60-53. Oklahoma City got as close as 64-62 by the end of the quarter, after Fisher’s 3-pointer and a layup by Thabo Sefolosha.

But the Thunder missed eight of their first nine shots to start the fourth quarter to fall behind by 12. Then they couldn’t quite recover.

Notes: NBA Commissioner David Stern attended the game and sat eight rows from the court.

Grizzlies 88, Thunder 84

MEMPHIS (88)

Prince 3-13 2-2 8, Randolph 8-17 12-16 28, Gasol 5-13 0-0 10, Conley 5-18 3-3 13, Allen 4-6 3-3 11, Bayless 2-9 3-3 8, Arthur 1-2 0-0 2, Pondexter 2-2 0-0 6, Dooling 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 30-81 25-29 88.

OKLAHOMA CITY (84)

Durant 5-21 11-15 21, Ibaka 8-17 0-1 17, Perkins 1-4 0-0 2, Jackson 7-15 1-1 16, Sefolosha 2-5 0-0 5, Martin 3-6 4-4 10, Fisher 3-11 0-0 9, Collison 2-5 0-0 4. Totals 31-84 16-21 84.

Memphis 18 32 14 24—88

Oklahoma City 23 15 24 22—84

3-Point Goals—Memphis 3-14 (Pondexter 2-2, Bayless 1-4, Dooling 0-1, Allen 0-1, Prince 0-2, Conley 0-4), Oklahoma City 6-25 (Fisher 3-11, Sefolosha 1-2, Ibaka 1-2, Jackson 1-5, Martin 0-1, Durant 0-4). Fouled Out—Ibaka. Rebounds—Memphis 58 (Randolph 14), Oklahoma City 55 (Jackson 9). Assists—Memphis 18 (Conley 11), Oklahoma City 19 (Durant 6). Total Fouls—Memphis 17, Oklahoma City 25. Technicals—Allen, Memphis defensive three second. A—18,203 (18,203).