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Thunder starters get plenty of rest in win over Grizzlies

BY MIKE SHERMAN, Sports Editor, Modified: May 12, 2011 at 2:02 am •  Published: May 12, 2011

We still don't know who's more worn down from those Memphis marathons, Grizzlies players or Thunder fans.

Just leave Oklahoma City's NBA team out of it. The young Thunder legs that Memphis coach Lionel Hollins insisted would be as fatigued as the rest of us ran the Grizzlies ragged Wednesday night.

So much so that Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the other Thunder starters rested the entire fourth quarter while the reserves finished off a 99-72 rout that propelled Oklahoma City within a win of the Western Conference finals.

The Thunder bench outscored Grizzlies starters 53-45. Daequan Cook's 18 points in 18 minutes were more than any Memphis first-teamer and all 12 OKC players in uniform scored. Nick Collison contributed 10 points, nine rebounds and another stifling defensive performance on Memphis star Zach Randolph. James Harden filled the stat sheet with nine points, six rebounds and five assists.

Durant scored 19 points in 30 minutes. Westbrook had 11 points and six assists in 25 minutes. Both played more than 50 minutes in Oklahoma City's 133-123 triple-overtime win in Game 3, so the rest came in handy. Given the entire evening off was the raging national debate over whether Westbrook (10 shots) or Durant (14) should be shooting more.

By the time Thunder coach Scott Brooks lit his human victory cigar — seldom-used 5-foot-9 guard Nate Robinson, who entered the game with 4:16 left — a 27-point lead allowed Thunder fans to think about stuff they hadn't dared consider in this series.

Like leaving early to catch up on sleep.

Or wondering whether the Heartland Flyer, the Amtrak service between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, would be offering a Thunder-Mavericks series special the next two weeks.

The Thunder can close out this best-of-seven series with a victory Friday in Memphis. A win would send Oklahoma City to Dallas on Sunday for Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. A loss would bring it back home for Game 7 against Memphis. Either way the Thunder will be playing at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Thunder-Grizzlies series defined by blown leads and marathon games took a dramatic turn Wednesday before another sellout crowd of 18,203. Oklahoma City made sure there was none of that.


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