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Thunder-Grizzlies series turning into Toughman Contest

BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, Modified: May 6, 2011 at 6:12 pm •  Published: May 6, 2011

MEMPHIS – The Memphis Grizzlies were the bullies in Game 1.

The Oklahoma City Thunder stood up to the bullies in Game 2.

It remains to be seen which team becomes the bully from this point forward in the Western Conference semifinal between Memphis and OKC.

With a flooding Mississippi River nearing an all-time record crest just blocks away from FedExForum, the Thunder faces the Beale Street Bullies inside their home gym for Game 3 at 4 p.m. Saturday.

A few hours later, Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley will meet for the welterweight championship in Las Vegas, but could this NBA playoff game be booked as the undercard?

The Thunder is the No. 4 seed and Memphis is the No. 8, but the Grizzlies own home-court advantage thanks to their impressive opening win at Oklahoma City Arena on Sunday night.

Fresh off winning a knock-down, drag-out series against top-seeded San Antonio in the opening round, Memphis controlled Game 1 from the outset, taking the lead for good after just 90 seconds and posting a convincing 114-101 victory.

"When you're in a physical dogfight, it's easier to go into whatever style is out there coming at you right off the bat," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said after Game 1. "We had the advantage of playing against a more physical Spurs team who, quite frankly, were just beating us up. We were banging and fighting, and it was a tough series.

"Then we come into this series and OKC had been playing against Denver – who is not quite as physical as San Antonio – so Oak City might not have been prepared for the physicality, but I'm sure that as the series wears on, they will be."

Hollins was right. OKC shoved back in Game 2 for an equally convincing 111-102 victory on Tuesday night.

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