But the Grizzlies clawed back. Big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol got going, combining for 14 points in the third quarter. The Memphis defense also caused five turnovers, which was as many as Oklahoma City had in the whole first half.
In the third quarter, Memphis was 14 of 24. In the entire first half, it was 12 of 48.
All told, Memphis outscored OKC 31-13 in the quarter.
All of that set up a nail-biting fourth quarter. But the Thunder was able to get back to the gritty defense and the up-tempo offense that it displayed in the first half. That turned a four-point lead at the end of the third quarter into double-digit lead midway through the fourth that the Thunder would never relinquish.
Game 2 will be 7 p.m. Monday in Oklahoma City.