Grizzlies go from uncertain future to West finals

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 16, 2013 at 2:18 am •  Published: May 16, 2013
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He ended up 5 for 21 from the field, the third-worst shooting performance in his playoff career.

"I gave it all I had for my team. I left it all out there on the floor," said Durant, who scored 21 points and committed three of his seven turnovers in the fourth quarter. "I missed 16 shots, but I kept fighting, I kept being aggressive. That's all I can ask for."

Durant was the hero in Game 1, hitting six of nine shots in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead jumper with 11.1 seconds left. After that, Hollins started including Tony Allen — the top vote-getter for the NBA's all-defensive team — among those guarding Durant. The three-time scoring champion's effectiveness declined as the series progressed.

"They had to play him and he had to be the go-to guy, and we knew that," Hollins said. "We just tried to just make him work for everything."

Durant's only two worse shooting performances in the playoffs came in Game 6 against the Lakers in the 2010 first round (5 for 23, 21.7 percent) — also an elimination game — and in Game 6 of the 2011 West semifinals against Memphis (3 for 14, 21.4 percent).

He faced increasing pressure after All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook had knee surgery two games into the first round and was lost for the rest of the playoffs. Durant averaged 45.6 minutes during the series and played all 48 minutes in Game 5.

"He wasn't going down. He didn't want to sit and watch and go down," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "He wanted to play."

Oklahoma City trailed by as many as 14 before it got a breath of life with a bizarre play midway through the third quarter when 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 76-64, then couldn't quite recover with their star struggling so badly.

NOTES: NBA Commissioner David Stern attended the game and sat eight rows from the court. ... Sefolosha wore a brace on his sore left hand. He played just six minutes in the first half, then played the entire third quarter. ... It was the second straight game the Thunder scored the first seven points, only to give up the lead a few minutes later. ... Nick Collison picked up three fouls in the first 2:35 of the second quarter and got pulled. ... After the third-quarter buzzer, Jerryd Bayless made a shot from three-quarters court that did not count.