Down 18 points in the second quarter, after a Game 3 meltdown, the Thunder season looked on life support. But like this team has done most of the season, it stayed tough. Even after frittering away almost-certain victory at the end of regulation and the first overtime, the Thunder came back strong.
James Harden playmaking: A
The Thunder had just six assists through three quarters, but Harden had four in a five-minute stretch of the fourth quarter, three of which led to dunks. Harden finished with a game-high seven assists.
Scotty Brooks didn't have his team ready to play in the first quarter. Then Brooks fell in love with Daequan Cook to the point he played the first 11:11 of the fourth quarter, including a full minute after OKC had a seven-point lead with 1:56 left in the game. By the way, shooting specialist Cook didn't score for 39 1/2 minutes, until foul shots with 14 seconds left in the third overtime.
Post defense: A
Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol hurt the Thunder with a combined 60 points and 37 rebounds, but after a torrid start, baskets were harder to find. Gasol made 11 of 20 shots, but Randolph was 9-of-25. Serge Ibaka was ineffective and played just 16:51, but Nick Collison, Kendrick Perkins and Nazr Mohammed all took turns banging with the Memphis big men.
Russell Westbrook: A
The most scrutinized player in the NBA playoffs wasn't perfect. He missed 18 shots, some of which were iffy. But in 51 1/2 minutes, Westbrook scored 40 points and had just three turnovers, even though the ball was in his hands a bunch. In the second overtime, Westbrook three times took shots with the Thunder trailing. He made all three to give OKC a tie or the lead, the latter a jumper with 30.8 seconds left to forge a 119-119 tie.
Offensive execution: C
Much better than Game 3, but that's not saying much. The Thunder had just seven assists through three quarters. The Thunder was saved by occasional heroics by Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Harden. Even after the Grizzlies played the final two overtimes without the fouled-out Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo, the Thunder didn't take advantage of the mismatches.
Brooks' B team was huge. In the second quarter, Cook and Harden each scored eight points. Then in the fourth quarter, Brooks went all-reserves from 11:49 to 8:47, and the B team turned a 72-71 Memphis lead into a 79-76 Thunder advantage.
Technical fouls on Perkins and Westbrook in the first half, plus another on Collison in the second overtime, though he did get hit in the face by Randolph.
Game-winning situations: F
Two final-possession chances to win, with 3.5 seconds left in regulation and 9.4 seconds left in overtime. The Thunder scrambled for a fallaway Westbrook jumper from the corner and a 28-foot prayer from Durant.
By Berry Tramel