Memphis outscored the Thunder 36-15 in the second quarter and the teams essentially swapped buckets the entire second half. The closest OKC got was 75-69 with 3:01 left in the third quarter.
As expected, the game was hotly contested from the opening tip.
“Oh, it definitely felt like a playoff game — very physical out there, intensity was there, guys was playing hard, so it definitely felt like a playoff game,” Randolph said.
A rivalry between these teams was spawned two seasons ago in an exciting, back-and-forth Western Conference semifinal that the Thunder won 4-3.
“Just two good teams,” said Randolph, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds and has had a double-double in every game this season. “We feel like we can beat them and they feel like they can beat us.
“This was a big win for us tonight. This is one of the best teams in the West. … We're the underdogs. I tell our guys, ‘We're the underdogs.' I've been an underdog my whole life, you know what I mean? That's how I feel. I've got to earn everything I got.”
The Grizzlies had a first-round playoff exit last season, losing to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Thunder, meanwhile, won the Western Conference championship to advance to the NBA Finals, where it lost 4-1 to the Miami Heat.
“We're trying to get where they at,” Randolph said of the Thunder. “We're always going to come out and play hard, come out and fight.”