For a series with such a limited history, Thunder-Grizzlies has provided a lot of memorable moments over the last five years. In honor of the seven-game Western Conference semifinals that start Sunday, here are the seven most memorable OKC-Memphis games:
1. May 9, 2011: The Thunder evens the 2011 Western Conference semifinals at 2-2 with a 133-123 triple-overtime victory. The Thunder rallied from an 18-point deficit in the second quarter but blew a 10-point lead in the final five minutes of regulation.
Memphis' Mike Conley swished a 3-pointer to force the first overtime, then Greivis Vasquez hit a 26-foot one-hander with nine seconds left to force a second overtime. Finally, the Thunder pulled away in the third overtime. Only one NBA playoff game ever has gone longer.
2. Nov. 14, 2012: Kendrick Perkins and Zach Randolph are ejected with 2:05 left in a game won by the Grizzlies 107-97. Then in the hallway outside the locker rooms, their beef escalated.
Perkins: “I'll meet you by the bus.”
Randolph: “I'll beat your ***.”
Later, Randolph was fined $25,000. Perkins said, “Just too much talking … You do have to see this team three more times, and we can't be showing no signs of weakness.”
Now the teams play anywhere from four games to seven games over the next two weeks.
3. Dec. 28, 2011: The Thunder's 98-95 victory in Memphis — clinched by Kevin Durant's big 3-pointer in the final 30 seconds — was overshadowed by a spat between Durant and Russell Westbrook.
During a timeout late in the second quarter, there were several verbal exchanges on the Thunder bench, notably between the Thunder's two stars.
What is it about Memphis that lights the loose cannon in Westbrook? Oh for that cannon to be available in this series.
4. Jan. 22, 2010: In a game matching the NBA's two youngest rosters and billed as a battle of the up-and-comers, Rudy Gay sank a 20-foot shot over Kevin Durant with 1.3 seconds left, giving the Grizzlies an 86-84 victory.
With the win, Memphis drew within a half game of OKC in the West standings. Mike Conley outplayed Russell Westbrook. Zach Randolph beat down Jeff Green. Marc Gasol bulled Nenad Krstic. Gay won the duel with Durant. Grizzly rookie Hasheem Thabeet had nine rebounds and four blocked shots, and no one walked away wondering why Memphis had taken the 7-foot-3 center over James Harden.
That game set the tone for what has become an interesting rivalry.
5. Jan. 31, 2013: Russell Westbrook's mysterious meltdown overshadowed a 106-89 Thunder rout of the Grizzlies.
Westbrook barked at the genteel Thabo Sefolosha, took a shot so wild Scott Brooks was forced to substitute, blew his stack while being counseled by Mo Cheeks, knocked over a chair and stormed off the court into the Chesapeake Arena tunnel.
At the time, Westbrook was playing an excellent game and the Thunder led Memphis by 20 points.
6. May 1, 2011: The Grizzlies served notice that the 2011 Western Conference semifinals would be an alleyfight the entire way. Eighth-seeded Memphis routed the Thunder 114-101 in Game 1 in OKC.
Zach Randolph had 34 points and 10 rebounds, and Marc Gasol had 20 points and 13 rebounds. The Thunder got a wake-up call and didn't regain control of the series until a Game 5 blowout.
7. Nov. 29, 2008: Scott Brooks' first career victory as a head coach and the Thunder's first road win ever came in Memphis, where Kevin Durant scored 30 points and Jeff Green 22 to lead a 111-103 victory.
The Thunder was 1-16 coming into the game, en route to a 23-59 season. The Grizzlies entered 4-12, en route to a 24-58 finish.
Both teams got good fast. Memphis that night started Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Darrell Arthur, Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo.