With their Western Conference semifinal playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder now 1-1, the Memphis Grizzlies get to return home for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Monday, respectively.
Both games at FedExForum are sold out (18,119), which gives Memphis more sellouts in the postseason (five) than the regular season (four).
Before this season, the No. 8-seeded Grizzlies hadn't had a winning record and hadn't advanced to the playoffs since 2006. They also have become more appealing nationally.
Then again, it's difficult to appreciate Memphis' ability when its games rarely are televised.
"It's more out of ignorance than anything else because no one knows about us. No one's ever watched us," Grizzlies veteran forward Shane Battier said. "People couldn't tell you what our color scheme is, for goodness sakes."
America also loves an underdog.
"It's easier to be the cowboy in the white hat versus the black hat, let's put it that way," Battier said. "It makes our life a little easier, not that it affects our play one way or the other. We appreciate our fans, but at the same time you don't get caught up in 'Who do we get to support us?' It's not about that, but it's a great time to be a Grizzlies fans."
HARDEN VS. ARTHUR
After the Grizzlies called timeout with 9:18 left in Tuesday's game, Memphis reserve forward Darrell Arthur delivered a forearm shiver to Thunder reserve guard James Harden at center court while walking past.
Though none of the officials saw it, Harden's teammates certainly did. When Arthur walked back onto the court, he got an earful from OKC reserve guard Nate Robinson, who walked in stride in front of the Thunder bench from almost halfcourt to the baseline.
Twenty six seconds later, Arthur was whistled for a technical foul for holding onto Harden after fouling underneath. The sequence gave the Thunder an 89-73 lead.
Arthur left the Memphis locker room afterward without comment.
I'M NOT SCREAMING
With 8:48 left in the second quarter on Game 2 on Tuesday night inside Oklahoma City Arena, Thunder center Kendrick Perkins was whistled for illegal defense and voiced his displeasure at referee Bill Kennedy.
Kennedy pointed harshly at Perkins and said, "Don't scream at me. Don't scream at me. Don't scream at me," while screaming.
At that moment, the Thunder had been called for 11 fouls compared to four for Memphis, which had 12 free throws to OKC's four.
- Tickets for Game 5 will go on sale Wednesday at 10 a.m. and are available only via thunder.nba.com. The game is scheduled for next Wednesday at Oklahoma City Arena.
- With 6:24 left in the second quarter, the Grizzlies pulled to within 36-33 after missing four shots and collecting three offensive rebounds on the same possession. Arthur finally converted a baby hook.
- Teams with nine fouls and seven turnovers at the end of the first quarter usually don't own an 11-point lead, but that's what the Thunder did to take a 28-17 advantage. Keying the surge was two steals for layups in the final 1:53 from reserve point guard Eric Maynor, who added a 15-foot jumper early in the second quarter. Maynor finished with 15 points, (6 for 7 from the field; 3 for 4 from 3-point range), three steals and two assists in 15 minutes.
- Memphis power forward Zach Randolph, who had nine points (4 for 4 from the field) and four rebounds in the first quarter of Game 1, had two points (0 for 3 from the floor) and one rebound in the first quarter of Game 2. His first field goal came at 10:37 of the second period. He finished 2 for 13 from the field, 11 for 12 from the free-throw line and finished with 15 points. He also had nine rebounds (four offensive).
- At halftime, injured Memphis forward Rudy Gay, his left arm in a sling, went over and hugged Kevin Durant's mother, Wanda Pratt.
- The fourth quarter took 44 minutes to complete and had 19 fouls. No other period took longer than 32 minutes.
- Replacing injured starter Serge Ibaka (who left after bumping knees at 2:18 in the second quarter), Nick Collison played the entire third quarter, the first 17:15 of the second half and wound up playing 25 minutes total. Collison played 15 minutes total in Game 1. He had seven points and seven rebounds in Game 2.
COUNTING ON CONLEY
Memphis point guard Mike Conley continued to be a thorn in the Thunder's side, finishing with a team-high 24 points (10 for 15 from the field; 3 for 5 from 3-point range) and eight assists.
"It's never about any individual," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said of Conley. "The guys that score are going to score. What Mike has done is what he's supposed to do. He runs the team. He's very good at the pick-and-roll. We have to keep him being aggressive and attacking and looking for his shot. He's played well. He's played well all season."
PLAN OF ATTACK
Conley, on what he attempts to do with Perkins on the floor: "I want to bring him out (from the basket). When he's in the paint, he's a handful guarding everybody. It seems like he can guard two or three people at a time the way he takes up so much space. My goal was to get him away from the rim, allow Marc (Gasol) to get some space. Marc's a great playmaker when he gets the ball. He can pass and he can make shots."